Back in late January when I got that stomach bug, I had no idea what caused it. In total, it probably lasted about two days. On day three after, I started feeling like more of myself, but I felt exhausted just from being sick those two days. The extreme body fatigue and ache wore me out, as did the stomach pain itself. After reading some recent news, Chris suggested that I could have gotten norovirus, which seems to be spreading quite rapidly throughout the U.S. In most cases, the symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, and body aches. I didn’t have the first three symptoms, but I definitely had the last two.

The thing that confuses me about whether I got it was… how would I have even contracted it? In the few days leading up to my getting sick, I was barely around any people at all, especially since I work from home. It seems like now, I just have to expect to get sick simply because I have a young child at home. It will be a wonder (and potentially a total nightmare) to see how much I get sick once Kaia is in daycare/school.

The Montessori method gone awry?

Ever since I became pregnant, pretty much everywhere I looked, I see the Montessori method of child-rearing mentioned. Toy companies trying to market more aggressively label their toys “Montessori” to increase their perceived value (and price). Everyone talks about encouraging children to be their own independent selves, and the way to do that is to have the child “lead,” whether that’s through baby-led weaning (which is inherently “Montessori”), skipping a sippy cup and going directly to straws and open cups; and having children choose their activities vs. having the parents push activities on the children.

In a nutshell, the Montessori method has five principles:

  1. Respect for the child
  2. The absorbent mind
  3. Sensitive periods
  4. The prepared environment
  5. Auto education

What this all means is: education should revolve around “child-led activities” versus “work.” Even without seeing the label of “Montessori,” I’m already very pro Montessori concepts like baby-led weaning, like skipping a sippy cup in favor of a straw or open cup drinking, like encouraging Kaia to problem solve instead of fixing all her problems for her. But at some point, the Montessori method really does go too far, and when I say “too far,” what I mean is this:

I recently got suggested a Montessori parenting handle on Instagram where the mother had a somewhat radical idea when it came to feeding babies. She suggested that instead of giving babies and young toddlers metal, plastic, or silicone plates, bowls, and cups to instead give them ceramic dishes and ceramic or glass drinking cups. The idea behind this is that if you allow the baby to throw or drop a glass or ceramic cup/plate, the mere scary sound of the crash/shattering would be so startling to the child that they would immediately re-think ever throwing or intentionally/accidentally dropping a plate/cup ever again. That way, we “respect” the child by allowing them to do what they want, and at the same time, they come to realize on their own through these loud sounds that throwing/dropping is wrong, and to never do it again. And — that’s ultimately a Montessori approach to feeding young children and teaching them that plates/cups stay on the table!

Ummmm, no. No, no, and no. I’m not going to spend endless money on replacing glass cups and ceramic plates just to do the “Montessori” method of feeding. No, I don’t want to further add to the world’s landfill. And no, I don’t want to constantly clean and sweep up broken glass and ceramics, I don’t want to expect Chris or my nanny to do that, and I especially do not want to risk Kaia getting punctured or injured in the process. Sometimes, these suggestions are truly just beyond stupid. Those who are constantly obsessing over whether they are truly following the “Montessori” or any other method need to get a grip of themselves, calm down, step back, and just be in reality for a second. There’s no reason to get your panties in a bunch because you’re not the perfect parent; no one is, and no one ever will be!

Kaia learns to drink with an open cup

A lot of people asked if I was planning to get Kaia a sippy cup. Many people just assumed this, including our nanny and parents on both sides. For the longest time, sippy cups were the “normal” thing to introduce babies to after they weaned off the bottle or breast. But the more I read about sippy cups, the more I realized that getting Kaia to learn to drink from one would allow her to gain no real long-term skills. The real skills she needed to learn from 6 months onward when it comes to drinking fluids is drinking through a straw and open cup. She mastered a straw after just a few tries. An open cup has certainly been more challenging, but she does seem to understand the mechanics more or less. We do still expect a number of spills, so to conserve things like soup or milk, we have her practice with water.

The cutest thing happened today while I was encouraging her to tilt her cup more. She was being a little conservative, and she wasn’t tilting her cup enough. So I kept repeating gently, over and over, “Tilt it more, Pooks! Tilt it just a little more! You can do it! Tilt it!”

Out of nowhere, she looked me in the eye and exclaimed, “I know!” in response. Chris stopped what he was doing and looked up, and I looked at him in shock.

Did she actually just know what she said? It’s unclear. But what is clear is… I know for a fact that I’ve got a very, very cheeky Kaia Pookie on my hands.

An eventful lunch out with a bang at the end

Today, we went up to Banh on the Upper West Side to have a late lunch. The last time I ate there was by myself in 2021, when I was very pregnant and testing out strollers at a nearby shop, and off work for a company-wide wellness day. The food and drinks there have always been delicious, and they are very well known for their weekend specials, which they change every week. Unfortunately, we got there too late today, so all of the specials they had that we were interested in getting were out except for one. It was pretty disappointing, especially since we don’t go there often at all, but at least it was fun to see Kaia enjoy the food: she slurped up her fresh rice noodles and was obsessed with the lemongrass grilled beef we cut up for her.

The visit ended with a bit of a bang. Chris suggested that I check her diaper since Kaia had had a lot to drink. And as I took her with all the changing materials to the bathroom, I realized that her bottom felt like there was a leak. As soon as I opened her onesie, I knew it was trouble: a big pile of poop was in the left leg of the onesie, and Kaia cried and cried. I smeared poop on the changing pad, the floor, and even my pant leg. It was… quite the spectacle. I had to rub off excess poop on her onesie and flush it down the toilet and get her diaper changed quickly. I took her out of the bathroom with Kaia just wearing her diaper. People were probably wondering why I was carrying a nearly naked baby as I walked back to our table. Luckily, we still had a second change of clothes for her in her diaper, so Chris got her into those.

Chris was reflecting on Kaia’s output history. In the beginning as a newborn, Kaia struggled to poop and would get backed up. A couple times, our night nurse even had to stimulate her to get the poop out. Now, Kaia has zero difficulties pooping: in fact, now she poops so often and so big that Chris has already ordered the next size diaper for her, even though those diapers are meant for toddlers who are 2+ in age! That’s how big her poops are now – they’re like explosions every time!

Thit kho and baby’s first pork ribs

It’s been at least 3-4 years since I last made thit kho — Vietnamese braised caramelized pork with eggs. The last time I made it, it was for a Lunar New Year friends’ gathering at home in our last apartment, and I remember using my Instant Pot to make this traditional Vietnamese new year dish, as well as using pork belly, which is traditional. This time, I got the idea from a food blogger I follow to use baby back pork ribs instead since pork ribs are quite a bit leaner than pork belly. Plus, with just two adults and a baby to feed, I really didn’t want to have that much pork belly in the house. So I waited for pork ribs to go on sale at Whole Foods before making this dish. I used my dutch oven to make it and braised it for just over two hours over the stove. It came together really easily with just a handful of ingredients. I also used two bottles of Harmless Harvest coconut water, so we can be certain the coconut juice requirement is legitimate and tasty. As soon as I tasted the braising liquid after a couple hours, I knew the flavor was right. I also knew Kaia Pookie would really enjoy these. Ribs are a great food for babies to eat because it provides chewing/gnawing skills, which help babies understand the “map” of their mouth. And since Kaia’s chewing and tearing skills are already so mature, I knew she’d enjoy the taste as well as the pure act of eating these.

Well, I was right. After dinner last night, our nanny reported that Kaia pretty much cleaned off her entire dinner plate; she gnawed every last bit of meat off both of her rib bones; she loved the ribs so much that when she realized she was done and had no more to eat, she started crying.

That made me so proud: my baby is appreciating traditional, authentic Vietnamese flavors, and at the same time, she’s also respecting her meat enough to get every last bit off the bones. That’s a good baby right there.

Baby shoes – how the hell do you figure out the fit?

The nanny suggested that we get Kaia shoes so that they could practice walking outside. In all the sources I’d read, they all said that babies don’t need shoes until they are walking. They are much better off learning to walk on their bare feet, no footies, no socks, to properly grip and understand their feet indoors. So buying shoes wasn’t high on my list since Kaia had only been cruising along furniture. But I thought, well, maybe shoes at the playground would be helpful, so I picked out a few pairs on Amazon and had them sent. The sizing is by age range (12-18 months), and one brand said they ran large, so I got two pairs that are 12-18 months, and another pair that was 8-12 months.

Well, they arrived today. And all three are way too big. What are we supposed to do now, get custom fitted shoes??

When the stroller rain cover gets stolen

Our nanny took Kaia out to the library earlier today, and it was raining, so she put the rain cover over the stroller. She saw it was quite wet coming in, so she dropped the stroller cover off in front of our apartment in the hallway today and then made her way down to the playroom for a couple hours before dinner. When she came back, the stroller cover was missing. She just assumed I had taken it in at some point, but I never did. I never saw the stroller cover out at all, even when I went out that afternoon. We asked the security and porters. We asked our doorman. I went to the manager twice to see if there was any way to find out where the cover had gone. But it’s nowhere. Someone actually SWIPED it??

The stupidest thing about the stroller rain cover going missing is that it would be pretty much worthless to almost anyone. It is fitted to the exact measurements of our Nuna Triv stroller. It’s just a piece of plastic to someone else. So it infuriates me that someone just took it.. if they actually did and the nanny is actually telling the truth. We’ve never had anything in front of our apartment unit disappear until today – no shoes, no umbrellas, nothing. And on a rainy day, wouldn’t it make more sense to steal someone’s umbrella?

In the end, we didn’t trust our nanny. I think she probably lost it or even purposely threw it out given we had a mini tiff earlier in the day, and she probably did it to spite us. It’s a good thing I got her sweating when I told her that I’d get management to show me video footage of the floor to see if anyone HAD actually taken it.

Approaching nearly two months of staying away from her crib

I thought that Kaia not sleeping in her crib would just be a temporary thing, that eventually she’d go back to her crib within a month of coming back from Australia. Unfortunately, we’re almost approaching two months of her sleeping on our bed between us. Everyone keeps suggesting to just move her back into her crib after she’s fallen asleep; well, unfortunately, we’ve tried that too many times, and it’s always failed. As soon as she feels she’s being moved, she opens her eyes, looks around, and then screams bloody murder. She can barely go 3 minutes without going ballistic.

Maybe I should be more firm about the “cry it out” method at this point, but I’m a softie with her. I hate hearing her cry for too long, and the idea that she’s going to cry so much that she will vomit really bothers me. Plus, I’d be lying if I said I did not enjoy waking up to her little face right there on the bed. I like hearing her babble as soon as I wake up, and sometimes, I even like her trying to sit and roll all over me before I’ve woken up. This time is all finite, as they always say. It won’t last forever, so I’ll just enjoy it as long as it lasts.

Working in an office vs. working from home

If you asked me before the pandemic and baby if I would ever consider a fully remote role, I would have given you a grossed out look and said I never would consider it. Why would I want to be alone all day? I’m a social person. I love seeing and talking to people all day long. I love having that comraderie and driving office culture. I love the free lunch (well, I used to have that), snacks (hehe), office supplies, and all the other little freebies and perks that go along with working at a tech company. But once the pandemic came, Pookster was born, and pumping breast milk became part of my life, my perspective on working from home and having that level of flexibility totally changed.

Now that pumping is over, I still feel conflicted about working in an office once again. It’s not that I have the opportunity to given my current company has no New York City office, but the thought at this moment really does not entice me at all: the commuting, the dressing/getting ready every morning, not having as much flexibility with my own non-work life. I don’t have anyone keeping tabs on me to see when I am coming in, going out for breaks, or leaving for the day. There are no spies watching or reporting back to some losers who care. There’s no office gossip. Going into an office every day feels very… ugh. I got this question a lot while at kickoff last week, and my general answer is… no, I don’t want to be in an office again. I’m happy with what I am doing now and the flexibility I have.

The magic of Ms. Rachel

A number of mothers have let me know the magic that Ms. Rachel from YouTube has worked on their young babies. Ms. Rachel has encouraged babies to clap, make hand signals, wave byeybye, and say words and phrases. There’s a lot of skepticism around whether any of this is actually effective, but I’d say that if it gets your baby to actually say and do new things that they hadn’t done before, then it’s a win. I’m careful with how much I let Kaia play with our phones and be exposed to screens, so I don’t want her watching anything endlessly. So over the last two days, I let her watch Ms. Rachel three times, in 10-minute increments. She seems to light up and giggle a bit when she sees Ms. Rachel’s face and hears her really high pitched voice. During just 30 minutes of watching Ms. Rachel, Kaia had already repeated “keys,” “got it,” and tried to do different finger movements to follow Ms. Rachel as she sang and used her fingers to show “itsy bitsy spider.” Very quickly, I was impressed and in slight awe. This was really working!