Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

Little A and I got a parcel today. Once or twice a year, his godmother sends presents from Helsinki, usually in time for my birthday or his. What made today's parcel extra special was that it was delivered right to our door. Now this isn't unusual in other parts of the world, but in the Philippines, parcels accumulate at the village post office and recipients get a card telling them to come pick their stuff up. Upon arrival, you pay a "storage fee" because your parcel has been sitting underneath many others in a dusty room. The post office people then open it in front of you to be sure there isn't any contraband inside, then you can finally have it.

The 2008 birthday parcel was gorgeously boxed in a Marimekko container, and once I opened it, Little A's two bottles rolled out. He immediately picked them up and put them in his mouth. Also in the lovely box was a set of baby Moomin cutlery, and for me (and Big A) to enjoy, a black nightie set and two boxes of Fazer chocolate eggs! 

Another weird thing about the Philippines is that despite it being a predominantly Catholic country, chocolate companies don't sell Easter eggs during Lent. Having lived 5 years in the UK, I know how delicious Cadbury's Creme and Galaxy Truffle Eggs can be, and crave for them every year. Fazer eggs are one step above the rest. Made for Russian Czars in the early 20th century, these eggs use real eggshells and are filled with a delicious almond-nougat-chocolate filling. To have 8 of them in my refrigerator is a delight that cannot be explained in words. 

The bottles should come in handy once I finally bite the bullet and start sleeptime weaning. This should happen soon, but as Little A has just come down with a cold, we may have to wait until he's well again. At the rate we're going, it will be another month before he's fully weaned. Fingers crossed!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Different Strokes

Last Sunday, we hosted lunch for a friend of Big A and her family, as they were in town for a visit from London. Their two girls, aged 2 and 4 and half-French, were like little fairies, beautiful, well-behaved and soft spoken. Little A enjoyed having company, and while they spent more time in parallel play than interacting, he wasn't so averse to sharing his toys this time.

When they left, Big A remarked that the two little girls were unlike any kids he'd ever encountered before. They were polite and respectful in a way that few children nowadays seem to be. When Little A's cousins come over, there is plenty of screaming - with excitement, frustration or anger. Opinions are expressed loudly, without hesitation. Each room is explored, beds are bounced on and toys and books are tossed about. My best friend's 5-year old likes watching tv or playing games at top volume, and when Little A tries to take a toy from him (as he doesn't yet understand the concept of sharing) he hits back or retaliates.

The French girls played quietly, and they didn't dare to enter our bedroom, or even Little A's room, until their parents said it was alright to do so. When they did, they didn't even think about touching the bed, let alone climbing in. They only played with what was available, and never raised their voices. At the dining table two rooms away, we grown ups could hear each other as we spoke in our regular voices, something that never seems to happen when other children come over. Once in a while, one of us would peek in at the kids to be sure all was well, otherwise no supervision or intervention was necessary.

Seeing those children in action made me more determined to bring up my son "right", as Big A and I define it anyway. Different strokes work for different folks, and everyone's parenting style is unique. I never liked it when Little A ran around screaming. Screaming is only for when you're hurt, or if a stranger tries to take you away. I'd like him to be respectful of other people's bedrooms and not climb on other people's beds. As it is, he does play quietly most of the time, with little supervision required. And as it's been a while since he's played with his cousins, there has been less of the screaming.

Still, as parenting goes, we have a long way to go. It's a learning process for both us and Little A, so let's hope the end result is one that we're all happy with.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mother's Milk and the Fifth Taste

Little A and I are now 2 weeks into the weaning process. I don't know how successful we've been, as those blasted websites make it sound so easy. "Replace a feeding with a bottle once every 3-4 days, and within 2 weeks your baby will be completely weaned." Or maybe it is easy for other parents and we are the exception?

The plan was to replace the afternoon feeding first, then the morning one, and save naptime and nighttime (pre-sleep) feedings for last. But the websites don't tell you what to do when your child has had less than a dozen bottles in his first year and so flat out refuses and just goes on milk strike. Formula was ruled out immediately because any attempt to get him to drink it resulted in instant vomiting. So I moved on to fresh cow's milk. I say "fresh", but I really mean pasteurized, boxed milk. He reluctantly accepts it, but only when heavily diluted with water, and in minuscule quantities. Pre-naptime he alternates between the breast and the cup (a plastic drinking glass, not a sippy,) spending a few seconds at a time with each.

It's not easy, and I have no idea how to address the boredom feeding that happens every time we get into the car, let alone the mid-nap and sleep feedings. But a part of me understands why Little A is so reluctant to give up his mother's milk. It is the best and most natural food for a baby, after all.

Much press have been given lately to the so-called fifth taste, umami. In addition to salty, sweet, sour and bitter, this new taste is what makes us crave for more. It addresses the palate's sense of "deliciousness."

Glutamate is said to be the main ingredient in creating umami, and surprise, surprise, one of the things found to contain a very high content of glutamate is breast milk. No wonder Little A is so loath to give it up, and no wonder cow's milk (which, when given too early in human babies can cause kidney damage due to its high sodium and potassium content!) is such a poor second.

Calves (and all bovine creatures, I presume) have 4 stomachs and a special digestive process to allow them to break down what they eat. Between birth and 8 weeks of age, when they are weaned, cow's milk develops the 4 stomach formation in a young calf. So how can a human baby stomach in its singular form cope with digesting cow's milk, and, for that matter, is it really the best thing to give toddlers from age one onwards? Certainly, it makes them sleep longer, but all of my reading says this is precisely because formula (cow's milk-based or otherwise) is more difficult to digest than breast milk.

I'm on the fence on this one. While Little A's increasing teeth make breastfeeding more uncomfortable, I do wonder if there is a better alternative to cow's milk out there. Maybe the pediatrician will know. When we see her next week, I will be sure to ask.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wife Vs. Mother

A friend of mine has a fantastic food blog. In the kitchen, she is a true domestic goddess, cooking and baking and even making her own bread. I follow her culinary adventures online and take down lots of recipes, most of which I've not yet had time to make.

When Big A and I first moved in together, our apartment had a tiny kitchen and an ancient oven that made us afraid connecting the gas would cause the building to blow up. Plus, we both hate it when the smell of cooking food permeates throughout the house, and the tiny kitchen was not sealed off from the main living/dining area. Add to that the fact that I worked 3 simultaneous jobs, hence the move into the heart of the city where both of us could walk to our respective offices, meant very little cooking was done in the 2 1/2 years we lived there.

Marriage meant moving to a bigger flat, one with a "proper", though not much larger, kitchen. By this time I was working only one day job with flexible hours, which meant cooking was now possible.

So cook I did. My husband is very unadventurous gastronomically, so I had to make the things he'd been eating at home for years and staple Filipino food for most meals. The 2 days a week he would play golf though, I could push the envelope a little and make myself more interesting food. My repertoire increased from just "survival food" (pasta of all sorts, and roasts) to things like Eggs Benedict, Beef Stroganoff and Spanish-inspired bean stew. I baked banana bread and sticky toffee pudding from scratch, and made my own sangria when friends came over. While there were still many recipes I hadn't tried, I seemed to be on the right path to domestic goddess-ness.

Nine months into the marriage, I got pregnant. One day after the pregnancy was confirmed with our first ultrasound scan, I had some bleeding and was put on a week's strict bed rest. That meant absolutely no cooking, and this was a problem because Big A's culinary abilities are limited to making rice and heating up things that come from a can. I did the cooking and the washing up, but we had a lady come in twice a week to do the major cleaning, laundry and ironing. 

Bed rest meant that in the mornings before leaving for work, Big A would bring me a drink and something purchased from Starbucks the night before, like a muffin or a croissant. At this time, he only worked mornings, so at lunchtime he would come home and heat the food his parents or mine had left in our freezer, then do the washing up (I assumed). Dinner was a repeat of lunch.

A week went by and I was still told to take it easy because bouts of spotting would come and go. I was to spend as little time as possible on my feet, so preparing meals and washing up meant sitting at a stool in the kitchen.

In the second trimester things went back to normal, thankfully, so I continued my progress toward Stepford wifedom. The third trimester meant frantically finishing off my work, or trying to, as I would be officially unemployed once the baby came, and finding a place for all the hand-me down baby items my sisters passed on. In the run-up to the 40th week, I cooked madly, making and freezing as much as I could because all the reading I'd done said that there was little time and energy for housework when a new baby was born. (Little did I know that this would become a longish-term situation.)

Once Little A was born, things changed.

Suddenly I was a mother, and all mothers know that babies are quite demanding. We hired a daily girl whom I taught to cook and clean, as she didn't even know how to make rice, let alone use a toilet brush. As my job had disappeared and Big A started working 12 hours a day, we decided not to hire a nanny, which meant I was a full-time mum.

It was then that I realized that the roles of wife and mother are not particularly complementary. I had to be a mum first, and therefore had much less time to be a wife. Big A and I could no longer go out for meals, see a movie or paint the town red the way we used to BB (Before Baby). As Little A grew and Baby Einstein took over the television set, Big A and I couldn't even watch DVDs together anymore. 

The demands of his new job were such that in spite of the long hours at his desk, Big A had to entertain clients in the evenings at least once a week. On weekends, he wanted nothing more than to rest. Those twice weekly golfing afternoons were gone, as well as time previously spent at the driving range of with his friends. Since he spent so little time with his son, he wanted to make the most of weekends with the family. It was almost a good thing that we never had time to do husband-and-wife things together anymore.

While we both agree that Little A is a fantastic addition to the family and probably love him more than we do each other, there is no denying that the parameters of our marriage have had to adjust. No doubt these will change again as he gets older and becomes more independent, but in the meantime we're taking things day at a time. I look forward to the day when I can be both mother and wife, equally.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Down Memory Lane (1)

Thanks to modern technology and a wonderful thing called Facebook, I have recently gotten back in contact with people I've not heard from in decades. While there are many arguments against virtual social networking, I can only see the positives, maybe because I am home all day, every day, with only a one-year old and a housekeeper for company. Virtual networking keeps me sane, and in touch with the outside world.

Another reason to be thankful for things like Facebook and email is that for 5 years of my life, while I was halfway across the world at a British boarding school, the only means of communication with my family, friends and boyfriend of 2 years were snail mail and occasional long-distance telephone calls. Many people don't remember what life was life before the Internet made the world so much smaller, but I do, all too well. The world wide web has not only made communication infinitely easier, but has also allowed me to rekindle old friendships that petered out when letter writing became passe.

I spent the summer of my 12th year at school. Not summer school, but boarding school in Sussex, England, for a 6 week period that would be my trial run for the five years between 1989 and 1994.

Ballet was my life as I entered late elementary school, and books my parents brought me from the UK about dancers at ballet schools must have had a serious impact, because after sending off a series of photos and a video audition of myself doing a ballet class, I was off to Bush Davies school in the summer of 1988.

I remember feeling both nervous and excited. My mom took me to Harrods to purchase the uniform grey kilt, white blouses, burgundy jumpers, knee-length grey socks and the blazer with the school crest on it. From the school's secondhand shop came two hideous pink and white dresses that turned out to be the summer uniform, and a pair of royal blue smocks that buttoned at the back - pinafores that the first-years were required to wear. For the dance classes, I had enough of my own pairs of tights and ballet shoes and just had to get a few of the uniform burgundy leotards.

The school grounds were beautiful, and most importantly, located near enough to my guardians' house to allow me to spend the exeat weekend (there was one every 3 weeks of term) with them. As a minor, I was required a legal guardian, and my dad's counterpart at the London office fit the bill perfectly. My parents spent a week or so in London to get me ready for the term's start and make sure I settled in nicely.

The first year girls all slept together in one long room. I remember entering a small building and going up a narrow flight of stairs, at the top of which was a small room on the left belonging to the housemother, whom we called Nanny. Poor Nanny had to wear a uniform even more hideous than ours. The main room was like something out of Ludwig Bemelmans' Madeleine. 3 of the walls were lined with 2 dozen beds, some singles, some bunks, each separated by small lockers in which the girls stored their personal items. I was given a single at the far end, and had a dark-haired Welsh girl called Victoria for a neighbor.

In the middle of the room and along the 4th wall by the door were double-sided tables and chairs, with mirrors at each, which was where we were to do our hair before dance classes. On the table in front of each mirror were fishing tackle boxes, many of which were decorated with stickers, filled with hairgrips, pins, nets, brushes and hairspray.

I was unpacked and settled in by 430 pm or so of the day before term started, and the girls were starting to come in one by one, many bidding tearful farewells to their parents for another 3 weeks. It was only then that I realized that I'd come in the middle of the school year (the start of the summer term, to be exact) and that all the girls had their little cliques of friends already. Luckily, everyone was very friendly to the new and only Asian girl in the year, and I didn't feel left out.

530pm was teatime. I followed some girls down to a big building that housed the dining hall and dormitories for older students. There was a massive, high-ceilinged room filled with tables and chairs (very much like Hogwarts' Great Hall), and along one long wall was the entrance to the narrow serving area, where we lined up with trays for hot food. Along another wall was the window through which we pushed finished trays to be cleaned. The fourth wall opened up into a conservatory, which was filled with yet more tables and chairs. The entire room reverberated with the noise of hundreds of students welcoming each other back.

I dutifully lined up and held out my plate for a slice of cheese on toast. There were plastic mugs at one end of the line and everyone took one and filled it from the drinking jug next to it. I did the same and wondered what on earth the tepid beverage that looked like dirty dishwater could be. Used to drinking glasses of fresh water with every meal, I was about to have my first taste of British tea with milk. I didn't like it at all. It tasted of dirty dishwater, and it was only the next morning I realized that there was sugar next to the mugs. It was much later that I tasted a proper cup of English tea, as the tea served at school had very little milk in it, and realized how delicious it could be.

Once tea was over, I remember asking on the way back to the dorm what time dinner would be served. I was told it would be at 1pm the next day. Here was my first encounter with the language barrier. English in England was not the same as the American English I'd grown up speaking, though I did know some of this from all the Enid Blyton books I'd read.

To my horror, I realized that tea, that insignificant slice of bread with cheese on top of it, was the last meal of the day. Again, I came from a country where tea is an afternoon snack, and dinner or supper at 7pm or so was a full meal that kept one from starving til the next morning's breakfast. But apparently the Brits didn't eat. Woe was me with my lightning fast metabolism and days full of academic and dance classes.

Somehow, I survived the night, maybe because I was nervous about the next day. Breakfast was hot oatmeal and more tea, and this time I discovered the sugar. Then it was back to the building that housed our dormitory, for it turned out that the two big rooms downstairs were the first-years' classrooms. I was assigned to one and muddled through a morning of strange classes. Geography and history were clearly different than what I'd been learning at home. Maths was fine, but it had an S at the end of it (we called it Math where I came from). English was a piece of cake. Science would come later on that week in the labs, which were in another building, as well as Music, which took place in a room behind the conservatory next to the dining hall.

At lunch, or dinner, as they called it in England, I was in for another surprise. The serving line I'd gotten used to from the previous two meals provided a hot lunch, and more of the neverending tea. As I sat down to eat, I saw that there was a second serving area in the conservatory. Apparently this was where cold lunch was served - sandwiches and salads. You could have one or the other, but not both. Clearly, Brits really didn't like to eat.

After lunch, we trooped back to the dormitory to get changed and do our hair for the afternoon's dance classes. As timetables were handed out at the start of the schoolyear and I'd come in midway though, I just blindly followed wherever the other girls headed. I also had the disadvantage of not knowing my way around the campus, as the others had been there two terms previously and knew where they needed to go and when. At this point, I only knew my way to and from the dining hall.

The dance studios were scattered across the different buildings. The main administration building, in front of which was a large pool that had turned into a pond over the winter and spring complete with green water and frogs, housed most of the studios, and I remember having most of my ballet classes there.

Another surprise was learning that ballet wasn't the only dance class we were to do. Having only studied that, it was something of a surprise to realize I also had to do Character, Tap and Modern. For the latter two classes, many of the girls had been studying these already prior to entering Bush, so students were divided into 3 groups according to ability. Naturally, I was put into the beginner's classes of each. Having no tap shoes or Character skirt, I made do or borrowed what I could.

Despite my total lack of previous experience in any other dance form other than classical ballet, I found I enjoyed the other classes. In Character I learned to strip the willow (and now wish I'd learnt other forms of Scottish dance), and tap was a lot of fun. Modern dance was the most challenging, but somehow I muddled though.

As the weeks went by, I found myself enjoying the entire experience. Some nights, Nanny would read a chapter of Roald Dahl's Boy to us. One night there was a fancy dress party, and we had to make ourselves up to look like a particular musician or actress using only what we had on hand. There were girls who cried at night out of homesickness, and most of our spare time was spent sewing ribbons on ballet shoes or writing letters home.

Dorm life was exciting that half-term. One afternoon we couldn't get ready for dance classes because a hive of bees, or maybe it was wasps, had fallen through one of the cupboards and the entire dormitory had to be fumigated, so we couldn't get in until all the insects had been removed. Another morning, we woke up to flapping overhead. A bird had gotten in somehow, again though a crack in a wall or a cupboard, and was flying aimlessly around the room looking for a way out. We dove under our duvets each time it flew above our heads, and in the end Nanny, I suppose, shooed it out a window.

One weekend afternoon, we went to town. Each girl had some pocket money deposited in Nanny's care at the start of every term. We were allowed to take some out and buy what we pleased, but there weren't many shops in town. All I remember is a very long walk in the cold and wet, the highlights of which were a sweetshop and the Body Shop.

3 weeks later, it was exeat weekend, when most of the students went home for a night. Everyone looked forward to this. I was to spend the weekend at my guardians', but their kids had just come down with the chicken pox, and since I'd not had it yet, I had to stay at school. I didn't mind, as this would give me more of a chance to explore the campus.

The grounds were like a ghost town that weekend, and I was the only first-year girl staying behind. Nanny's boyfriend Rupert, as large and cuddly-looking as the bear of the same name, came to visit, probably because she was stuck there that weekend to look after me.

In the dining hall there were only a handful of students. As I was eating by myself, a blond girl came up and introduced herself. She was a second year named KatieJane, and she and her companion invited me upstairs to see their dorm after the meal.

I was surprised to discover that second years only roomed in groups of four, which was nice and cosy. This was my only look into the other dormitories, and it was lovely to see where I would be staying if I came back to Bush after this summer.

After exeat weekend, it was time to wear the dreaded summer uniforms. In reality, it wasn't even that warm, and most of us still wore our burgundy jumpers over the pink dresses, which clashed horribly, particularly on the redheaded girls. Summer uniforms meant first years no longer had to put the blue pinafores on, so we really did look sartorially sad.

The next 3 weeks seemed to go by in a flash, and before I knew it, half-term was coming up. It was then that I realized there was another six weeks of school to come, but I was going home. There were tears all around, as I'd made some good friends in my short stay. What there was to look forward to was the fact that I'd most likely be coming back for good in the third year. (Summer in the Philippines was from March until May, so I had already been enrolled for the coming school year in June.)

My last day came, I hugged everyone goodbye, and we all promised to write. (And we did, some girls more than others.) I went home, and things went back to normal except that I knew I'd survived the boarding school experience, and enjoyed it, which meant I'd be going back for more.

Sadly, that year an announcement was made that Bush Davies was closing down. They had kindly forwarded my application video to several other schools, and I was accepted at The Arts Educational School in Tring, Hertsfordshire, and Elmhurst Ballet School in Camberley, Surrey. The following summer, my parents and I visited both schools, and decided that I would go to Elmhurst in the fall of 1989.

This time the uniforms came from Peter Jones: grey A-line skirts, bright blue jumpers, another grey blazer and a duffle coat for the winters. There was also a stripy blue and white summer uniform that was just slightly less hideous than the pink and white dresses we had at Bush, a grey tracksuit with the school logo on it to wear over dance clothes, and a straw boater hat, which no one ever wore.

Upon entering Elmhurst in September, 1989, I was delighted to discover that many of my friends from Bush (as we fondly called it) were there too. All of us new girls together were dubbed the Bush girls, and I was proud to be one of them. Apart from the Bush lot, the only other new students to Elmhurst in my year were a pair of girls from Jersey.

There began another chapter in my life, but that will be told another time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Trials of Toddlerhood

Ever since he was born, Little A would wake up every 45 minutes to 1 hour during his naptimes to feed. I can't find any information on this on parenting websites. Everyone else's kids just seem to nap in one long stretch from birth. It's frustrating, because we're trying to wean and I have no idea what to do about these mid-nap feedings. A bottle would make the most sense, but I haven't been brave enough to try one yet. While feeding, he strokes my chest and makes sure it's really me there. Sigh. I know I should just bite the bullet and see what happens.

Toddlerhood seems like it will be much more challenging than babyhood, what with toilet training and weaning and disciplining and all the rest of it. I hope I can do a good enough job. Big A is just not around long enough, since he leaves for work before we are awake and often comes home at night when Little A is about to go to sleep. So the burden of responsibility will rest mainly on my shoulders. Already we're having temper tantrums when I pull him away from the swimming pool (he tries to jump in at every possible opportunity) but most of those don't last long, and he does seem to be learning. Now he walks along the pool and just puts his hands in, but still tries to get into the kiddie pool every chance he can get, as he knows that one is where he is allowed to bathe.

Luckily, my son doesn't seem to be a sulker, the way I was as a child. I would go off by myself and sulk for ages. Now though, my temper cools as quickly as it heats up. Little A may get angry with me for disciplining him, but when I put him down he still runs back into my arms, crying. Maybe he understands that stopping him from doing something doesn't mean I love him less, but that I love him more and don't want to see him hurt. At any rate, he doesn't seem to love me any less for it. Let's hope it stays that way.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Meaning of Weaning

My baby is now a boy. Little A is one, a toddling, climbing dynamo of energy. A whole year, imagine that? Just 368 days ago I was on an operating table being cut open because after 11 hours of labor, the baby's heart rate indicated that the cord was wrapped around his neck (and over his shoulder, like a parachute harness). 

One year. In that year I got down to my lowest weight ever (87 lbs as of last weighing) without even trying (in fact I have been on a weight gain mission since Little A was 2 months old), learned to appreciate the stay-at-home lifestyle (it's exhausting when you're looking after a baby 24/7) and had one haircut. My wardrobe has consisted of five, yes, five, tops, which, given their nursing openings, can only be worn with a handful of bottoms. I have seriously fallen off the style wagon in the past year.

One year means weaning. I've breastfed my baby longer than most mothers I know, as the average length of time is 6 months. The thing is, most mothers I know have nannies, which means they usually pump their milk and go about their lives (shopping, haircuts, long lunches, travel) while nanny stays home and feeds baby from a bottle. No nanny means no time to spend long stretches attached to a milking machine, and taking your baby with you wherever you go, which, given the circumstances is just the supermarket every two weeks and to the parents or in laws' houses for weekend lunches. No nanny means direct feeding, as who would have the time to wash and sterilise all those bottles when baby is attached to you and knows the food source is right there anyway?

At 6 months, we attempted to get Little A to take a bottle so that at least when we were out in public, I wouldn't have to keep flashing my boobs to the world. He hated it at first, but perseverance meant he would reluctantly accept one, when he felt like it. His bottle of choice? Not the Dr. Browns wide-neck trio we got for a shower present, nor the Tommee Tippees that came free with our steriliser. Not the Nuk bottle that cost a fortune (and thankfully we only bought one of) - my little one liked the slim Marimekko bottle his godmother brought him from Finland as a Christmas present. 

The Finns are way ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to style. Not only do they have fabulous designers of all sorts - architecture, interiors, graphics and fashion - they seem to be more earth-conscious than the rest of us. The bottle not only had lovely Unikko flowers on it, its teat was of a different shape than any other one I'd seen. It was flattish, not round, with an arrow to show which side was the top, as the human mouth is not evenly shaped but has a top bite that goes over the lower one. This teat was as brilliantly designed as anything else that was Finnish. It fit the human mouth perfectly. No wonder Little A thought the others were inferior.

When he had to drink from a bottle, Little A preferred this one. But having only one of these, and a small sized one at that, I had to write his godmother and ask if she could please send over a couple more for his birthday. 

Unlike other babies who wean simply from breastmilk to cow's milk or formula, Little A has the double whammy of having to accept a bottle or a cup AND a different type of milk at the same time. I don't expect it to be easy, and heaved a sigh of relief upon finding out that my parents timed their annual European trip perfectly, leaving two days after his birthday and staying away an entire month. Not only can Little A's godmother send more bottles to London if need be, rather than all the way to Manila, we will have less distractions in the form of grandparents popping in at any time of day to whisk us away for afternoon tea or lunch. While the distractions may actually help the weaning process by taking us away from Little A's familiar environment of home, at least we will be doing things at his pace and time.

In mid-August comes Big A's weeklong holiday, which we will be spending in the mountains as we have done every year since 2003, except for last year when Little A was just born. I hope to have him fully weaned by then, six weeks from now. Let's see how it goes.