blog difficulties

just found out some of my posts haven't been publishing as intended
-please bare with me til I fix the technical difficulties!

One year old!

The Story of My First Birthday
I had a monkey face cake. My mommy calls me a monkey most mornings when she wakes me up. She also calls Daddy a monkey, but lets not get into that right now. The blog is about ME right?
This was MY cake. Some of my so called friends stole my cupcakes!

These were the cakes mom made for everyone else. There were more than this actually. Good thing we had enough!


I was wearing my special birthday outfit sent over by my GMa (great godmother if you didn't know). It was really cute but maybe white wasn't such a good choice? Anyways, everyone sang me a song and then made my blow raspberries at one measly little pink candle before I was allowed to full investigate the monkey. Serious, thorough investigation. I didn't leave much undiscovered. My research result? YUM. I like chocolate.


So lots of people were there, hanging out having a good time. My mom & dad's friends, my baby group 'gang' as mom calls them. A few of them even liked chocolate cake almost as much as me!


It was great day even though I only had a teeny tiny nap that morning. Its okay, i knew people would have fun even if I had to go to bed before them. And when I woke up I discovered that all my nice friends brought me lots of bright colored boxes! Some of them rattle, some seem to squeak. A few just go thump when banged. Can't wait for Mom to let me investigate them further... (we still haven't opened all the presents-but huge thanks to everyone for them!)

privledges of a 1 year old

When you turn one, you get a cake all to yourself. How about chocolate cake with chocolate frosting (in the shape of a monkey face no less)? YES. That will work.


shameless bragging

So, you know how I mentioned the purple potty a while back? How we were slowly going to start introducing her to it? Making verbal cues to help her try to use it on occasion?
Well, like I mentioned then, potty training is something that's done all along in these parts. People just don't get the point of waiting to a certain age first, etc.
So once the potty arrived, Nava's Nanny Noi and best buddy Goong, just naturally started putting her on it when they saw she was getting ready to #2. Better than cleaning a dirty diaper right? And I quietly did the same.

And she totally gets it.

In fact, she got it this whole week. Every day this week. Yes, that's right folks. 100% potty usage for solids this week. And something well over 50% in weeks previous.

Mommy like!


kiss kiss

Okay, this is even better than UP!

Nava now kisses on request. It is the sweetest thing and at the same time the most exciting thing ever.  
 And yes, this is definitely one of those moments I appreciate that blogging allows me to go off about this stuff and enjoy it without blurting it out at management meetings and other less cool places.

Just ask her to kiss you. Or daddy. Or grandpa. Or noi or.... In fact she'll even stop crying to kiss you and then go back to the crying. KA-YUTE I'm telling you. And needless to say this is motivating me like crazy to get signing and talk talk talk and talk some more with her.

I'm still working on getting a video. I'm so overwhelmed with the cuteness, I keep forgetting!

good's enemy

I really need to work on writing. Not planning posts in my head but actually just writing. 
Perfection is the enemy of the good. 
Must keep reminding myself that.

In non-earth shattering news around here I went to the the local fancy-pants grocery store (carts! air con! Italian biscotti!) and I cleaned out their baking aisle of anything cake decorating related. I came this close (do the finger motion for me, come on... just do it!) to getting her a professionally made cake this morning when I realized that there is actually a person in town who does fancy decorated cakes. I messaged her on facebook, she got all excited, suggested a design, quoted me a price and we were negotiating details when she realized she had prior committments and couldn't pull it off. At least by that time I'd finally gotten motivated on her cake!

I was asked in January about party and cake plans. Today is the 22nd and the party is on the 26th.
And today I got motivated.


So yes, the baking aisle. Food coloring, candy figurines, gelatin, sugar, cake mixes, flour, vanilla.... Yeah.
And no, I don't know what I'm doing with gelatin but it was there. And its german. So...

And then I got 10 feet from the cash register and remembered this is also one of the few places in town with party supplies. So then I raided that aisle. Straws, cups, plates, candles, candles that spell happy birthday, muffin tin liners (ok so that's another aisle), bamboo skewers (!).

Between the baking aisle and the party aisle I figured out I like pastel orange as a non-cliche feminine color. I scored drink straws to match the candy flowers in that color. It's only now as I'm writing this that I realize I don't know when people would use straws. When do little kids use straws at parties? Hmmm.... We won't have cans of soda. But they were the right color!


But it's ok. Because as I type this I can glance over at my daughter snuggled up in footie jammies next to her sleeping daddy. I'm enjoying the humor in the fact that they both drunk themselves to sleep tonight ;)


Bangkok weekend redux

on the tarmac
We headed to Bangkok (we being the whole tribe of Nava, Daddy, Mommy and Nanny--Grandpa got left back in Laos with a cold) for an extended visit with the speech therapist. We brought Nanny Noi along because I really don't want to be the only one trained in this stuff and don't want to have to train someone else when I'm just learning too! I think this made it the biggest group I've done airtravel with since I was 16 and on the plane to Thailand for the first time.

Ah, fancy Thai hospitals. The play areas really rock-when's the last time you saw a kid crying cause it was time to go home from the doctor's? We took advantage of being in Bangkok and at the hospital to get Nava's one year thyroid check up and I really liked the endocrinologist that we saw. First he checked the xray of Nava's hand (digital, which is cool anyways, plus much lower power required) to see how her bone development stacks up. He got out his textbooks and studied away and concluded her bones seem to be exactly what 1 year old bones look like. He felt her soft spot and reviewed the blood tests and said he was very impressed that everything was right on target. We discussed her height, saw it is following a curve well.

...pancakes, soup, rice porridge, yogurt, eggs...
there were a few long waits-extra cuddle time!
We discussed her weight gain which was getting a little worrisome, but slowed way down in the past month, so seems its not symptomatic of anything at this time. He encouraged us to play lots of music for her (never a bad prescription!) and said lots of calcium, specifically bone broths and egg yolk. Which was music to my ears since I've been making broths and cooking her food with them for a few months now and each morning at the hotel buffet breakfast I'd been ordering hard boiled eggs for Nava-one for breakfast and the other into her lunch box for supplementing our out and about meals. All in all, a nice visit! We also ducked down the hall to the ENT for a quicky ear look while waiting for blood results. Unfortunately, she still has a little fluid in one ear. We'll wait one more month and check again and then we're gonna have to have a hard think on that. Tiny tiny tiny ear canals they say....

But the best part of the weekend was Saturday afternoon at the Rainbow Room. We only made it over for an hour last month and that just wasn't enough. This time we were there for playgroup and everyone had a great time. We met some Thai OTs from near us in Laos (who speak Lao) and they talked for hours with Nanny Noi--priceless! We found out a friend of theirs even comes to Vientiane regularly so maybe we can set up some regular sessions.  But the best part of Rainbow Room is not OT and networking--it's playing! Lots of great toys and the paddling pool was a definite highlight! I even ran into an old friend from grad school there with her son. Now, how to start a Rainbow Room in Lao?

Nava was in top form all weekend-super cute and a great traveler. She's also turning into a ham for the camera:

Over and out!

little bits from the trip

The inflight snack of bread roll , served in crinkly bags no less, was a major hit
Baby's First Barbecue

Sometimes a girl's just gotta holler

such a ham


I can't believe how long it's been since an update. Grandpa being here means the blog is getting a little neglected. However, the Nava awesomeness has not slowed down in any way!

So where were we? Well we've been out and about in Vientiane, especially at our favorite coffee shop with awesome playroom but that's not the only place. We've been to Bangkok! And now we're down at the dam-a four hour drive from Vientiane, about an hour and half away from the Vietnamese border in central Laos (side note: I'm from southern California so will always think of distance in terms of time. I've learned how to describe in kms mostly for my job, but time is still my default setting).

And it's C O L D

It felt like 100 degrees (or 35 in C) a few days ago. And then whomp, it changed and I've got toe socks and a space heater and the electric oven on and everyone's wearing two layers. C R A Z Y cold!

(now, I'm publishing so I can get into writing some real posts ;) )


Motoring on...

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apologies for radio silence

We've been a little busy around here with our Grandpa, known to some as radiodude ;)
Our regularly scheduled blogging will resume as soon as Mommy gets the use of her left arm back, right now there's a very cute someone occupying it.


soooo sleeeeppeeeee

Nava missed her afternoon nap yesterday (and the day before, come to think of it). Nanny Noi tried everything, even put her in the Ergo and walked but she responded by playing peekabo with the head cover!

By 5:00 she was in complete meltdown so we hurried up dinner.
How did it go?
Well, let's put it this way, have you ever seen a baby eat solids with their eyes closed??!?!

Someone was Really, REALLY tired!

And of course, early to bed means early to rise. Mommy NOT loving it. Anyone got baby sedatives?


development, therapy, milestones

This issue will always be a work in process but I'm sharing here first as a record for me (when did she start that?). Thanks for reading!

If we were in the US, Nava would qualify for and receive Early Intervention services meant to help her achieve developmental milestones. What services exactly would depend on what state we lived. In Oregon, it would mean having a generalist "educator" come give us tips and all different things, maybe twice a month. If we were in California, she'd likely have a combination of physical, occupational, and/or speech therapy. If we were living near LA or SF, she might even get vision therapy (due to her cataracts-turned-contacts).
But we don't live in the US. We don't live where they have those kinds of therapists for babies like Nava. So we do the next best thing. We do it ourselves.
  • We use books, specifically these from Woodbine House publishers. There were the first and most often recommended books to us this year. People even tried to give them to us twice but by then I'd already bought them. They actually are as great as people said.
  • And then I use lots of internet resources. Places like the Downsyn forum, the Baby Center forum and the Einstein Syndrome email list. Turns out there's more than a little controversy in this special world. Yeehaw. 
  • I emailed lots of moms. And I follow their blogs (blogs to the right, one day I'll organize it, promise). And I play "ooh, when they were Nava's age, they did that..." and "oh, they have one of those ... toys, we should get one of those".

And Nava has actually not really needed much help up to this point. She was born with only minimal low muscle tone so she isn't up against as much as many other kids with DS. Her eyesight (namely, lack thereof) until about 6 months did cause some delays. But she seems to have really caught up from that now.

So where is she at today exactly?
As far a gross motor (big motor skills):  She sits great and has since around 7-8 months. We're now working on sitting on a low bench (90 degree angle knees). She can pivot 360 chasing a toy, either direction. She is just getting a tummy crawl going, usually no more than 1-2 ft though the nanny nearly had a heart attack the other day when she's gone 6 feet towards electric cords. We've definitely determined she can go pretty far but its tough going army crawling with that big belly and right now she seems to lack the motivation. She loves to stand and can stand against a wall or holding on to table top, etc. She's only very occasionally getting up on to her knees so that will be a while yet. And her big big belly I think is making mobility a little difficult!

On the fine motor (tasks with hands...) department: She grab things a hold them tight well. She's really improved in the her ability to grab small stuff but doesn't have a real pincher grasp just yet. She can self feed pancake chunks, frozen blueberries, green beans, and teething biscuits. She doesn't yet bang things.

Her communication skills are now emerging. She watches Baby Signing Time for a little while each day, so she's doing *her* part. We try to sign to her, but to be honest, we are pretty crap in this department. It's on my list of Things We Must Get Going On. I think the emergence of the first sign is gonna help us get it in gear.
She's gotten very vocal again recently (she was vocal around 6 months but seemed to mellow in the last months). I noticed over the last two weeks, every time she was face to face with another kid she was vocalizing. She kind of talks as we read book now too, so that's something for mommy to get to work with.

Is it Feb 29th yet?


They say all behavior is communication.
The arching back from the bottle says "yuck!".
The turned head says "No more prunes, dude."
The whhhhhines mean "I want" or "Move me" or "I don't wanna do this anymore".
And of course there's crying.

But we've now moved into a new phase around here. Nava is now making a very explicit sign.

Just like this only Daddy isn't holding her hands.  Onesie courtesy of Ceci.

She throws up her arms because she wants up. She's been doing it reliably for over a week now. She does it with everybody. Yes, it's a gesture I've always taken for granted. But it melts my heart each time Nava does it. The feeling that your own child has begun talking to you is pretty damn heavy.

I couldn't be prouder.


Nava's Best Buddy

Goong on stroller duty
One of the GREAT things about having a baby here is the availability of help for mom. My friends and I just can't fathom how hard mothering a new baby is "back home" without the luxury of so much help, in fact. First off, let me clarify, Nava has a nanny, who doubles as our housekeeper. She's amazing and loves Nava to pieces (the feeling is mutual).

Nava made her give it back
But I think the person Nava is around for the most hours in the day is not the nanny, nor me. It's Goong. Goong is one of the two young women from Sout's extended family we support to live in the capital and go to college (known by me in daily life as The Cousins). When Nava was really little, Goong didn't seem very interested but as Nava got bigger (and more interesting?), Goong and he developed a strong relationship and its clear she's one of her favorite people.

Bouncing Buddies
Goong comes home from school at noon and relieves the nanny. She plays on the ground with Nava, puts her in her jolly jumper, uses her crawling track, and takes her out to the backyard to play. She makes her bottles and feeds her meals all without being asked. She's great at bath duty too.

If Nava is out of sorts, Goong's arrival instantly fixes everything. She gets a huge grin on her face when she recognizes her or hears her voice. Goong came and sat down next to Nava's highchair about half way through dinner last night. Nava immeadiately whipped around to see her and broke into a giggling fit. Apparently, it's gotten so bad, Nava's nanny kicks Goong out of the room during mealtimes!

dragonware brand

Over here, in Southeast Asia (most of Asia?), people generally potty train very early. Well, they approach the whole thing differently really. First off, it's hard to find newborn size diapers because generally they just wrap babies in towels (not as a diaper but just normal baby blanket style) and then change towels as needed and wash everything. They also aren't so worried about it. You hold a lot of babies without anything on their bums here. The assumption is that if you're unlucky, well, either you can wait to dry or change your shirt. And since no one has carpet, the same goes for the floor too. Basically, all this undiapering is a cousin to the ECing you hear about amongst the chrunchy in the US. So anyways, given the above, it should be a surprise to know that baby potties are very common here. They are available in much smaller sizes than I've ever seen in the US too. I went to a huge box store in Udon and they had well over 10 kinds.

While Nava is not going to be potty trained for a long time yet, she can still get some practice. This is her purple-pink potty. It fits her perfectly, with arm rests and everything. For the past few weeks, we've been putting her on it in the morning and before her evening bath, cueing her with a shhhhhhhhh noise at the same time (it's what they do here. Also, see EC). She usually sits for a while and then makes it clear she wants up-and we never make her sit any longer than she wants.

[alert-too much information below]

So how is it working? Better than I hoped!
I was just going for awareness but last week she pee'd in the potty 4 nights in a row. In fact once, it was more than just a pee-pee. Much more.

First step in a thousand mile journey? Check.
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