A lot has been happening around here lately. Here's a video of TongJie and Jeff playing with a basketball.
On New Year's Eve day we went sledding. TongJie didn't last too long. He had fun, but I think the sledding was on the verge of being too scary for him. He went down the hill on Jeff's lap a few times and on my lap a few times, and then he was all done. In fact, when he later saw the video clip posted below, he signed "all done," probably remembering how he felt when he was going down that hill.
Speaking of being all done, TongJie's crib is, as he so eloquently put it, "all done." There have been a lot of changes to TongJie's routine recently, with being at different places for Christmas activities, not sleeping well, and having me go back to work, to name a few of the changes. About a week ago, TongJie completely flipped out about being in his crib. He used to do fine in it, but then all of a sudden, amidst the disruptions to his routine, the thought of being placed in his crib caused sheer terror. So ever since that night, he's been sleeping on his crib mattress on the floor. It feels like we've taken several large steps backwards, which I'm sure is normal for a situation like this. Even sans crib, TongJie is still having a very rough time sleeping for naps and at night. He panics about being left alone, so we've been sleeping in his room a lot lately. Even then, it still takes him forever to calm down and finally fall asleep. A lot of his difficulties are probably normal two year old behavior, but his attachment issues are compounding the problem I'm sure. Plus, for the first 20 months of his life, all he knew was a very strict routine of eating and sleeping, and after the trauma of getting settled into his new life with us, we were purposely extremely protective of his schedule and routine for the first few months. The inevitable changes that have been happening lately must be an unwelcome intrusion to him indeed. Me and Jeff are beginning to dread naptime and bedtime as much as TongJie does, because we know it will take just about all the energy and patience we can muster. However, aside from the sleeping issues and the accompanying ill-tempered moods caused by lack of sleep, TongJie is still his fun and silly little self.
I went back to school on Wednesday. After exactly eight months of being away from school it was hard to go back. The nice thing was, after all the changes that have taken place in our family over the past eight months, things at school haven't changed at all. It's almost as if I'd never left. Well, except for the fact that I have about 100 kindergartners' names to learn and a bunch of other names to re-learn. I'm only working two days per week, which is really nice. Before my leave of absence, I used to teach music at two elementary schools, but I only returned to one school, so my working days are Wednesdays and Thursdays, and not even whole days at that. My first class doesn't start until 9:30 so I have plenty of time to get TongJie ready for the day without disrupting his usual routine, and taking him to my mom's house. This past week, though, he didn't go to Grandma's house because Jeff's school district was still on break. So Jeff got to spend Wednesday and Thursday as a stay at home dad while I worked. This coming week will be the first week of our new schedule, and I'm sure it will take a few weeks to get into the swing of things.
On another note, today was Jeff's birthday! It was a fun day. On January 1, we started the "Whole 30," which is a grain/dairy/sugar/preservative-free whole foods diet for 30 days. Basically it's a paleo diet, but a little stricter. We did the Whole 30 last January as well, and it was awesome and really got us thinking about the foods we eat and preservatives and junk we put into our bodies. After our last Whole 30, we made a lot of changes for the better to our everyday eating habits. So this year, it wasn't nearly as shocking to transition to the Whole 30 on January 1. I remember last year, the first few days were really difficult with craving certain foods (mostly sugar for me, and grains for Jeff), but this time around it's been a lot easier. All that to say that I really wanted to make Jeff a cake for his birthday and found a recipe for a paleo chocolate cake. I will confess that we cheated a little bit with the Whole 30 because I put 1/4 cup of honey into the cake to make it sweet. We agreed that we could make an exception and cheat for Jeff's birthday. The cake is made with sweet potatoes, cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate, coconut oil, coconut flour (which we can make in our Vitamix!), and honey. It turned out really good! It's hard to believe that the bulk of it is made with sweet potatoes. TongJie loved the cake too. We generally don't give him sweets besides naturally sweetened fruits and things, so it was fun for him to get to eat a yummy treat. And he had fun watching us light a candle and sing Happy Birthday! By the way, in case anyone is wondering, TongJie is not participating in the Whole 30 diet. We're continuing to give him his normal healthy diet that includes the dairy, legumes, and whole grains that we are forgoing.
The big news from today is that TongJie learned how to suck from a straw this evening! That's a pretty big deal for us. TongJie's cleft palate was repaired in October, but since he had never developed the muscles or the know-how for sucking, it wasn't a skill that he could just pick up right away. My sister gave us a nice big straw, and it whistles when you blow through it. TongJie finally figured out how to close his lips around the straw because it doesn't whistle unless there's a good seal around it, and he REALLY wanted to make it whistle. Once he figured that out, we got him to blow bubbles in a cup of water, which he thought was great. After the bubbles, it wasn't too much longer before he sucked in and got a little bit of water in his mouth. Realizing that the water was coming into his mouth by him sucking was motivation enough for him to keep trying it until he could get it every time. Being able to suck is going to help with his speech as well, so we're pretty excited. In the video below, he had already sucked some water a few times and was really starting to get the hang of it. I don't know if he'll be able to get his lips to close around a smaller straw, like the kind in a juice box, but we'll try it tomorrow and see if he has success.