September 2017

A- and I spent most of September in the Philippines visiting family. It was our first time to be away from W- for so long. Stretching the flights out with an overnight layover in Seoul was much more manageable than trying to do it with a short layover, even though that resulted in 33 hours of travel time. It was good to spend time with my parents, my sisters, and A-‘s two cousins.

We spent most of the trip at home. Kathy also took us to Museo Pambata, where A- liked playing in the pretend marketplace. She also planted and harvested rice in their pretend field. We went to the Mind Museum and A- was fascinated by the cut-away toilet and the kinetic sand. She liked the ball pit, ramps, and the slide at Active Fun. We visited my dad in the hospital and ended up staying in the hotel at Manila Ocean Park after a kalesa ride through the flood. A- was fascinated by the fish swimming in the aquarium lining the wall. A- slept through the celebration at the church, and had fun at the party afterwards. She slept on the van trip to Tagaytay, enjoyed staying at Taal Vista, and rode her first Ferris wheel, carousel, and horse at Sky Ranch. (She was so relaxed, she fell asleep about ten minutes into the horse ride.) Lots of fun outside, and lots of fun at home too.

A- loved hanging out with her cousins and imitating what they did. She wanted to imitate how G* balanced on one foot, and she bounced up and down on the bed when G* and A* were jumping on it. She pretended to fry an egg using the pan in their kitchen playset, and she liked carrying a basket of plastic food.

We called W- over video chat as often as we could. A- liked saying hi to him and interacting with him even over the phone. She also asked for the cats so that she could say hi to them. She missed W- a lot, sometimes asking me through sign language how much she needed to wait in order to see Dada. When we got back, she showed a strong preference for his company whenever he was around, and separation anxiety when he wasn’t. We had been way for almost four weeks, and that might have been a bit too much. Still, it was what we needed to do. It was good that we were there. We spent time with Kathy’s kids while she accompanied my dad to the hospital and to Singapore for lots of consultation.

A- picked up lots of words and enjoyed lots of social interaction while she was there, too. She invented her own sign for “grape” using the starting gestures for “The Great Big Spider,” and my dad enjoyed offering her grapes. She learned “Uh oh” and started using it after spilling something… and before intentionally spilling things, too. She liked picking up phones and saying “Hello, bye bye,” so I got into the habit of disconnecting hotel phones. She liked the bidet, and asked for it. She picked up “Oh no” from John V. after one saying. She learned the gesture of mano po from my mom after a day or two, and various fistbumps and high-fives from everyone. My parents got their own share of unprompted kisses, and they even came up with new games with her like nose-twiddling. When we got back, she learned the other two cats’ names and lots of words for everyday life (including, quite charmingly, “Yes please,” “Up please,” “More please,” and the like).

My dad gave A- her first camera and her first Swiss knife. She’s shown plenty of interest in both, and I frequently use them in front of her so that she can become more familiar with them. The camera is shock-resistant, which is great because that means she can handle it freely. She’s even pressed the shutter button a few times. The camera has built-in WiFi, so I’ve been uploading more pictures to my phone and then to Facebook. The Swiss knife, well, there’s a short list of tools that she can use under close supervision, and maybe she’ll grow into the rest.

A- wants to grow into so many things. She wanted to wear my carrier, my clothes, and W-‘s suspenders. She not only pretended to put her old conformer into Baa’s eye, but also wanted to wash it after dropping it on the floor. She wanted to unlock the filing cabinet with the keys that she insisted on holding for me. She learned how to get water for herself from the water dispenser.

We had the occasional tantrum: sometimes when she was overtired, which couldn’t be much helped; sometimes refusing clothes, which was totally understandable given the weather, so she spent quite a few days in just a diaper; sometimes refusing diapers, which was less negotiable. Overall, A- rose admirably to the challenges of a long trip and a different environment, which made it easier for me to adapt.

Speaking of adapting, A- turned out to be fine with spicy things, enjoying a few spoons of a laksa that I had for dinner one time. She’s fine with vegetables, too. When we got back, we discovered that she also really likes the green monster smoothies that W- makes (kale, blueberry, banana, yogurt, hemp seeds).

We’ve booked our flights for the next trip, this time with W-. I might actually be able to do more paperwork this time around. In the meantime, we’re settling back into life at home. October will probably be mostly about making the most of Toronto with music classes, parenting workshops, physical activity, parks, playgrounds, and trips to the science centre and to the museum, and catching up on stuff I postponed while we were away.

A-‘s learning so much. It’s all we can do to keep up! =)