Holi Moly!

My dearest Elizabeth,

How the time flies! It’s been almost four months since my last letter, and just typing all of this, adding photos, etc., to finally get it published has taken several days. So much that has unfolded during this time, so I hope I’m able to recall and fit it all in here.

Let’s start by going back to December. You and Mom started a new chapter, with her taking a new job, and you going along with her, starting preschool. That’s going well. You look forward to “going to school,” and have made friends there. Selina’s job keeps her super busy and it’s still a change we’re all adjusting to, with, in addition, my working more and more from home, balancing running and trying to build my business, and still working a couple evenings outside the house, trying to keep the house in order, and taking on more and more responsibility in my new role as a Toastmaster. It’s a juggling act, for sure, but we’re doing well.

I’m not sure who it is that’s been giving all these things to you, but at least one of your “teachers” and some of the parents have somewhat regularly been giving you clothes. This is one of the first ones, a traditional Chinese vest.

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And this one is from a couple days later, after your first trim (Dad did it himself), sucking down your old man’s Oreo milkshake.

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And while you’re growing and taking on a whole bunch of new skills and vocabulary, you still have a silly streak, as proven in this next photo, in which you’ve decided that the styrofoam wrap is better suited as headwear than as a cushion for the pear that it came with.

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And here you are in the bedroom, all pj’ed up and ready for bed, with the your new stuffed dog (and your new favorite gesture).

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On one of those unusually beautiful, sunny days that we had in mid-December, I decided it was a good occasion for us to play hookie, so the two of us heading into Taipei to check out the new Children’s Amusement Park.

That last photo, sitting on the elevated train, is still one of my favorite recent shots of you. You were already pretty tired, having missed your nap, played at the park for a couple hours.

And as luck would have it, we ran into an old friend of mine, Christopher. And it was his first time seeing you in the flesh, so he was pretty excited to finally get to make your acquaintance.

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Fast forward to 2017. You’ve fully adjusted to your new preschool environment, and you’re showing the signs of a budding toddler artist.

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And you really like that gesture—it’s the Taiwanese in you, I guess—but it still takes some practice to get those fingers just right.

As the Chinese New Year approached, and winter finally began rearing its ugly head, more sleep was in order. And you and Mom take this very seriously, often leaving no room for Dad.

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The CNY holiday break was only six days this year, and we spent most of it relaxing at home, spending quality time together as a family. But we did get out a couple times, and on one of the fairer weather days, met up with Dad’s first friends in Taiwan, the Chiu family, and drove up to the coast to have lunch together. The restaurant happened to have kiddie rides outside, so it took some prying to get you back to the car afterward. But you were so happy in the few minutes that you got to play.

And Daddy bought you a new beanie.

Due to all the holidays, we have missed a lot of swimming classes. But your love for being in the water hasn’t faded. In fact, getting you out of the pool is not easy. Here you are, with Mom, after class was over.

One of your favorite things to do most of the time is sing. Sometimes that includes dancing and/or gestures. Oftentimes it involves a lot of making things up as you go, including mixing lyrics from one song to another, or quickly switching to a new tune mid-song. Either way, Mom and I find it endlessly entertaining.

Waiting for dinner seems to be one of the more popular times to burst out in song.

It’s probably in your genes. You certainly have an appetite, and you have a number of favorites—pizza, ice cream, cookies, and cake, to name a few, get you pretty excited. I know I got my love of ice cream from my father, and you’re already following in that regard.

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We still do really well as far as keeping sweet in check. We have a strict no candy rule and have managed to keep with that religiously. But your mom and I also love fine dessert, so it plays a pretty regular role at mealtime.

And as you continue growing and developing more vocabulary and personality, it’s so much fun to watch how this unfolds especially at dessert time. We’re very proud of the work we have done to instill in you the importance of sharing, but we also find it immensely amusing when you stake claims on the last bite, or for whatever reason think it best to exclude Mom from eating this or that.

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This time, while checking out a new nearby pizza place, you called dibs on the last three slices and did everything in your power to make sure we saved them for you. It’s clearly not selfishness, but rather a sign of your love for pizza—you got them from me—and a constant form of entertainment for Selina and me. On that same occasion, you stole all the berries from my creme brule, with amazing speed and skill.

I’m going to try to wrap things up as this is already a bit long and I don’t want to put off publishing it any longer. So here’s a small collection of recent pictures detailing some of our life.

The Kinder bus is at Aimai, our nearest hypermart. The butterfly wings were part of the outfit you wore at one of Selina’s cousin’s wedding. And the last in this set is of you copying Mom doing yoga.

So we did something special just last month, and I think it’s going to be an annual tradition for us. A number of the Indian restaurants in the greater Taipei area come together every year to put on a local version of the Indian Holi festival, and I made sure that we made it this year. For you, it meant mostly playing in the sandbox, but we also had a lot of fun with the watercolors that were distributed to all the participants.

Your old man also got really badly sunburned.

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And after half a day of serious play, and no nap, you were out before we even left the parking lot.

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Yeah, we’ve been busy. But it’s been the good kind. I’ve gotten my schedule worked out so that we have a full weekend together, all three of us, like most families should and do, and we’re all happy and better off. Since starting this letter there have been other marvelous adventures, and I promise it won’t take four months to share them here with you.

Much love,

Dad

Happy Terrible Two!

Dear Elizabeth,

About four hours ago, you officially hit the two-year anniversary of your grand entrance. What a ride it has been. What a joy you are. What elation you have filled my life with.

It’s official—you’re now a toddler. (Although you’ve had all the markings of one for months already.) But you have legally earned the right to claim “I’m in my terrible twos” whenever you’ve done something that ticks me or your mom off. And we will still try our best to keep teaching you, guiding you to becoming more of the bright, kind, entertaining soul that you’ve demonstrated to us that you want to be.

It’s your birthday, and it’s perhaps the happiest day ever for me as I dwell on that and count down the hours until I get home from work to see you, hug you, smother you with kisses, and tell you with all my heart, “Happy birthday, my darling. I love you to pieces.”

Dad

FALLing into Place

My dearest Elizabeth,

We’re nearly halfway through November already, which means you and Mom have been out of the house for just over two weeks. I’m still adjusting to the early mornings; I haven’t been very good at getting to bed early enough, so it’s been bumpy. But except for one day, I’ve been able to get up at least to get you girls to work and preschool, saving you the time and hassle of busing it.

But oh my do I love having all this time. I feel a bit guilty, in fact, with your mother working all day, then still having most of the responsibility taking care of you. But I’ve done more than my share as well and believe I’ve earned this. Most important, it’s for a good cause, allowing me to catch up on all the stuff I’ve wanted and been unable to these past many months, including not only keeping the house in order but also numerous projects around the house, and especially getting my business more firmly off the ground.

As I’m still adjusting and trying to make the most of the time I now have, I haven’t gotten around to getting back to swimming, or getting much exercise at all for that manner, but I have been reading again, playing drums a bit, and taking lots of naps (to make up for the lack of sleep—not out of laziness). I still have a lot of discipline to acquire before I can manage to get everything done in a day that I’d hoped for. Baby steps.

In just a few days you are going to be two years old. How the time has whizzed by. And lucky for me I’ve been here to witness most of your little milestones. I’ll be out of town all weekend for a Toastmasters conference, so we’re going to have to put off the celebration a bit. But we will commemorate the day nonetheless, and a bash it will be.

For now, here a slew of photos taken over the past couple months, including some from out little family trip to Sun Moon Lake, a few of the last few times just the two of us shared before Mom was in between jobs, some more family beach fun, a trip to the Taipei Zoo, and just good ol’ cute little you being you.

Love,

Dad

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Sporting your new Osh Kosh

img_3611 A sweaty day at the park

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img_3632 Sun Moon Lake cruise

img_3637 At the top of Ci En Pagoda

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Sun Moon Lake cable car

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The gesture that accompanies with your favorite question: “Where?”

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img_3795 img_3796 Wearing Daddy’s clothes

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img_3806 img_3807 Matcha ice cream—yummm!

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img_3836 img_3837 “Baby’s glasses”

 

All Things Must End

Dear Elizabeth,

So we’ve had a really good run with my being a full-time stay-at-home dad, but it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. Actually, I need time for handling all the numerous responsibilities I’ve been trying to juggle these past many weeks. And your mother’s new job is going to make room for that, and then some.

In a few weeks, Selina will start her new job, and you’ll be going with her to work. They have a dedicated room for two-year-olds, so that will be the new arrangement. I’ll continue staying home, taking care of all the housework, shopping, cooking, etc., but I’ll also—finally!—have the time to get out and build my business some more. This has been something I’ve been meaning to do for months and months. Now I’ll have the time to get it done.

An extra 40 or so hours per week is going to be really nice, not to mention my being able to get more sleep. But I’m going to miss—a lot—all the time we have gotten so used to having together. I’m sure, however, that you will also enjoy the new change as you’ll have playmates to run and climb and play with all day, not just boring old Dad. And I hope to take a day off every so often for just you and me to go out and play together, hit the zoo or park—that sort of thing.

This newfound “freedom” is also going to, hopefully in the near future, allow me to put into place other career goals and therefore further changes, letting me be closer to home even more often. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves and spoil things before I’ve made all the necessary preparations and put in the months of hard work required to make these things happen.

In short, this is going to be a big change for me, one that I really, really need, and one in which I’ll be able to focus more on building my business. And your mother, I’m sure, will be especially grateful for not having to lift a finger on housework. All in all, this is what I’ve envisioned and been waiting for for a long time.

Love,

Dad

 

 

Bilingual

My dearest Elizabeth,

We’re already halfway through August, and well into our third week of my being a full-time stay-at-home dad. And things are going really well, I’m happy to report. We’ve worked out a pretty good routine, and nap time is much less of a challenge.

Much of the time, I nap with you. And there are pictures to prove it.

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It’s still really warm most of the time, so our activities are still somewhat limited by the weather and that flesh-eating sun, but we’re getting out a lot and having tons of fun.

Sometimes that’s as simple as browsing IKEA, eating out…

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…and the occasional Starbucks brunch, when cooking is just not in the stars.

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At times, we head out for some serious playing.

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But sometimes we just have to tough it and soak up a few rays.

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And when there is ample time and energy and motivation to cook, you double as my kitchen assistant.

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You’re also very fond of burritos.

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Much of that lazy time at home is spent hiding in the bedroom, catching up on R&R, hiding underneath the air conditioner.

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And sometimes that involves you playing with your stuffed dog. You even try to get it to drink water from a bottle.

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All of the time, no matter where we are or what we’re up to, you are your adorable, silly, curious, energetic self, doing what you do best.

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Yesterday was an especially fun day. We skipped swim class to hang out with Yo-yo and his parents, who we haven’t seen in quite a long time after changing our class time to Mondays. We met in the afternoon and drove together up to Zhuwei to play at the beach. This was your first time to the beach. Needless to say, it was a blast for everyone. And seeing the two of you growing up and playing together is a real delight.

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…with a sunset to see us off!

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So what’s been going on in addition?

You’ve been talking a lot more. This has evolved into making phrases out of lots of words that you already know, combinations such as “Mommy’s clothes,” “Daddy’s nose,” “Maiya, out!” and so on. Yes, a number of these are simply your mimicking us, so I’m working hard on curbing my sailor-like habits.

Living in a bilingual house, your vocabulary is a mix of both Mandarin and English. This means at this stage that most words you can speak, be they noun or verbs, are either, say, a thing in English or an action in Chinese—usually one language or the other. However, just the other day, you surprised me, while pointing at a picture of lavender, by saying 花 (hūa), followed by “flower.” (I’m not sure if this is a major milestone to celebrate, but it shot me over the moon.)

In your swim class, you recently got promoted to level 4. In the past month or so, you’ve made tremendous progress and showed an increased interest in being in the water. We’re going to make a swimmer out of you after all.

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Lastly, I’d like to share what’s going on with Mom and Dad. your mother is super busy at work, and she’s tired a lot as a result. I’m trying to find time to get work done, after taking care/chasing after you 50 odd hours a week.

I have also done something for myself. I joined Toastmasters. It’s gotten me out of the house one evening a week, and I’ve met a lot of really great people as a result. My first speech is coming up soon, and then I’m participating in a contest shortly after that. When you’re a bit bigger, I’m sure you’ll come see my speak.

So that’s about it for this time. It’s nearly bedtime for this guy. And I’m so happy to have found the time to catch up with you here. We’re getting in so much great, quality time together, but I have so little time to write much of it down, to share with you when you’re a bit bigger.

You, along with your mother, of course, are the best thing to have happened to me. I’m  blessed to have you in my life, and I love you to pieces. Your mother can’t get enough of you, either.

Keep on shining, little munchkin.

Dad

Dreams and Reality

Dear Elizabeth, 

It’s been quite a week. A week ago today you came home with bite marks all over one of your arms. We weren’t able to find out what happened exactly, and it caused an evening of upset for your parents. 

The next morning I decided to keep you at home with me, calling in sick to work. And by that afternoon, I came up with the solution: I would keep you at home with me full-time. 

Now, this has been a huge undertaking. It’s meant having to let go of all my daytime work, which is a large chunk of how we get by. And it’s meant having to think of ways to keep us both entertained as we now have five days a week with just the two of us. And it’s the middle of summer, so it’s crazy hot. 

Long story short, you’re not going back to daycare. Selina will continue working full-time at her job, and I’ll somehow make up for all the lost time and try to earn what I can when I’m free from my domestic and daddy duties. It’s going to be really rough, super tough, and we might just scrape by financially until I get a hold of all of this, or until another solution comes along that’s good for all of us. 

But it’s funny–this is what I’ve dreamed of all along, being a stay-at-home dad. I just never imagined it would come so abruptly, so unexpectedly, and in such a manner. Tuth be told, this is a monumental adjustment for me, because as much as I enjoy all the little moments you and I have together, your mother has almost always been nearby or able to jump in and rescue one or both of us. But now we’re both in this, having dove in head first, bobbing in the deep end, learning as we go. 

But I think this is how things usually work. Dreams, like all other desires, don’t always come true, and when they do, we don’t necessarily get to dictate or negotiate the terms–when, how, why, etc. Like this particular moment, it was thrown into my lap and I was forced to accept it and make the decision to make due with it. And I know it’s going to be all right. 

We are going to encounter a lot of bumps, and many of those are going to involve my learning the hard way and having to just let go, but I’m totally up for this challenge. And the reward, getting to spend all of this quality time with my adorable little girl, will more than compensate for any and all hardships and difficulties I have to face. 

So here’s to a whole new chapter of us. Let’s do our best and make the most of this gift that’s been presented to us. We may not have money in the bank, but we’ll have a roof over our heads, enough food to keep our bellies full and content, and, most important, each other. 

Love, 

Dad

Photo Blast

Dear Elizabeth,

I’ve been so behind for so long that I’m just gonna throw a whole bunch of photos in here.

Life is good. You’ve settled in well at daycare. Mom is busy at her new job and seems to love it. I’m at home a lot more now, trying to get in enough work and keep the house in shape.

You’re growing too fast, but we’re enjoying every single moment of the little girl you are becoming. And you are picking up new words way faster than we can keep up with, at least a few a week. Logging them now seems to be pretty much pointless.

So in order to fit all of this in, I’m gonna let the following photo blast tell the story of what we three have been up to the past several months.

Love,

Dad

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March 6, 2016. You hanging out with a bunny at the monthly Da An potluck in Taipei.

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Sometime in April: your first plum

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Just woke up (April 1)

 

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Your newest thing—sitting like a big girl

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Drinking like a big girl (April 1)

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Sharing a cone with Dad, at TaiMall

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New clothes

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Fork training

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Drinking from Daddy’s mug

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Wearing Daddy’s cap

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Discovering banana milkshake

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Must. Not. Waste. A. Drop!

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New Snoopy hat. First daddy-daughter day out, at Taipei Zoo. (April 19)

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Riding the Maokong Gondola

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Pouncing on Dad’s new keyboard (April 21)

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Hiking Tiger Head Mountain (April 24)

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Post-hiking snack: sweet potato tempura

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New summer dress (at daycare)

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Mix ‘n’ match, and Mom’s boots

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Silly girl

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Mom and Dad sneaking away from work for a little Starbucks treat

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Checking out Green World in Hsinchu (May 8)

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A little peace and quiet for driver Dad

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You still love bananas (June 3)

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Nap time with Daddy (June 5)

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The happiest girl on the playground

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First time climbing (June 19)

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A little Starbucks breakfast with Dad

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First trim. Bangs were getting in your eyes. (June 29)

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Meet Tommy, the newest addition to our little family.

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