Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Temper, Temper


Since coming home from the hospital with Seoul, MIL has been keeping to a schedule that allows her to help us and keeps me from beating her in the face with a frying pan. Monday through Thursday, she comes around 8am to take Raelynn to the mountain park in our neighborhood, giving me a few hours of relative quiet, and drops her off around 11am. MIL comes back again around 5pm to cook us dinner and goes home around 8pm when we're putting Raelynn to bed. So it's very different than when Raelynn was a newborn and MIL would come over and uselessly sit about, not cleaning, making more mess, interfering with what I wanted to eat and invading my privacy. She's actually being helpful this time around.

You think I'd be thrilled. Here's someone who leaves me in peace during lunch to eat as I wish, who brings us fresh vegetables and fruits, who helpfully takes my noisy toddler to get some exercise outside, who cooks dinner and cleans it up. I should feel grateful. And mostly I am, honestly.

It's just...
Well, let's just say that my hormones during my pregnancy were nothing compared to post-pregnancy. I feel like an angry bear ready to maul. Why do I want to attack someone who is helping me AND fucking off as she should? Ah, yes. Hormones.

Yesterday, I just wanted to hit my MIL. I don't know why. I don't blame her. She didn't do any one specific thing that made me want to snap her head off her neck. I just felt irritated by her presence in general. And she hadn't even been here that long!

I don't like letting her hold Seoul, which was the same for me when Raelynn was born. But I have to let her hold her sometimes, don't I? And if I'm honest, it's nice to have someone else hold the baby so I can play with Raelynn or even watch something lame on TV without distraction. For me that's been old reruns of Billy the Exterminator. Something about his style tells me that if my dear friend Penny were still alive, the 2 of us would spend many a phone conversation arguing over who would get to fictitiously marry him.

Now that I think about it though, she DID do something to annoy me. When she was holding Seoul, the baby began to cry. MIL looked at me stupidly like she had no idea babies could cry. I just fed the baby and it wasn't her hungry cry. I stared right back at MIL. "You figure it out," I tell her, smiling. But whatever she learned by handling Raelynn as a baby went out of her dusty old brain already because she looked more confused than ever. I took Seoul back and it took me .1 second to figure out the problem: poopie diaper.

She did this several times during the evening. She holds out her hands, wanting to hold the baby. This also irritates the shit out of me. My Chinese sucks but I will totally understand you if you tell me you want to hold the baby in Chinese. Stop holding your arms out like a moron. At least this time, she's totally on the ball about scrubbing her hands with soap and water, thankfully.

Though not as on the ball about washing the dishes properly. Jeremy caught her washing the dishes with cold water while I was busy bathing Seoul. I heard him scolding her in the kitchen. I have told her 5,000 times to use hot water when washing the dishes. So has my husband. We've even checked on her as she washes the dishes to make sure she's washing them properly. But yet we constantly have to remind this woman to use the hot water. She scares me. I pray that when I go back to work, she remembers to sterilize the baby bottles before serving Seoul my breastmilk. 

I cringe as I hand her the baby yet again. By this time, my husband is home. He came home from work and then went jogging. And I resented him for that, because, for one, he gets to exercise (I have to wait 4 more weeks and then I get to go for a check-up to make sure I'm all healed up and ready for it) and for another, he's leaving me alone with his mother who it takes all my strength inside me to be polite to. No wonder I went to sleep at 9:30pm last night...I was drained from having to endure her. And from soothing Seoul to sleep without the aid of a chair. Here's hoping the new chair will save me from that kind of exhaustion this evening. Here's hoping even more so that MIL doesn't break the new chair like she did with the old one.

God. I will so totally break her face if she does.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Chair! The Chair!

Today, I am a happy mommy. Our new Fisher Price bouncy lounger chair is here. That means I can (hopefully) get more done around here. No more crying baby while I'm about to turn on the stove. Or while I'm mid-saute and now must turn off what I was making for lunch to attend to a wailing infant. No more jumping up from the table to rock, sing and dance sleep back into a baby.

I'm thrilled I can finally put Seoul in this chair and move her wherever I happen to be. Putting away laundry? No problem! Cooking in the kitchen? Come on in! Playing with Raelynn? Come watch us from your comfy little chair.

It even vibrates which sends her right off into sleepy-land. We had such a nice lunch today, thanks to this chair. I was able to eat my food while it was still hot! AND! I was able to eat until I was full...not just a few bites before I was forced into starvation-mode like I was last night - which was actually fine because MIL cooked and she made us burnt burgers which I sadly didn't get a chance to photograph because I was busy rocking a baby in my arms for HOURS.

I would also like to add that my husband put this thing together. Thanks, Honey! The instructions were in English and Chinese. He claims he read everything but he put the canvas for the chair (which has a lion on it that's hard to see since Seoul is laying on it) on upside down. He also managed to make the entire chair lopsided. I discovered that he'd extended one leg in the back and not the other. Oh Jeremy! I love you anyway!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Our First Outing As A Family Of 4

On Saturday, it marked one week that I'd been trapped in the house. Some of that was due to heavy rains from the outer bands of a typhoon, but by then, I'd truly had it.

Jeremy suggested we go to Taidong. I shuddered. Taidong is always crowded, plus it's the end of July which means it is disgustingly hot outside. And you see things there that are like the thing at the end of this post. He wanted to go to the discount baby store there and look for a baby chair. You might recall when MIL broke our Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance chair, a very generous gift from a friend of ours that saved our sanity when Raelynn was small. While Seoul is a much easier-going baby, she still needs some sort of chair to chill in. We can't just have her lay on the couch or stash her in her crib. I didn't recall seeing any sort of baby chairs the last time we'd shopped there and I felt it might be a waste of time wading through the tourists all the while fighting off well-meaning-but-stupid-people who might want to touch the baby.

But my husband has a way of coaxing me out of my comfort zone. He reminded me that soon, we'd be making a trip to Guangzhou and we'd better get used to taking both children out with us. I couldn't argue with that logic. Or his offer to swing by the awesome little make-up store that sells Urban Decay and countless other fabulous things for super-cheap.

It was settled. But first, Mommy needed to fix herself up. Seoul had other plans. I smoothed on my foundation and just as I started blending it in, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! I hastily slather the rest of it all over and scoop her up. She falls right asleep again. I set her back down and grab my powder and brush. As I control the shine, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Ok, kid, just chill. I pick her up again and just as quickly, she's asleep once more. This goes on with everything I apply to my face until finally, my husband emerges from taking an epic shit in the bathroom and I can hand off the baby to him.

Raelynn is the only one ready. For an hour, she taps her shiny silver princess shoes on the tiles, waiting for us to go.

As all this unfolds, I decide I will be much more relaxed hauling 2 kids around and trying not to punch any people that get too close if I drink a glass of wine. Only I don't so much drink it as chug it. But it does the trick.
 Not too shabby for sleep-deprived Mommy, eh? I'm also a bit surprised I look this slim just 10 days after having a baby. That was NOT the case after I had Raelynn.

It takes forever but we all finally get into the car and we're off. Seoul sleeps the whole way. Actually, she sleeps the whole entire time we are in Taidong, amazingly.

Raelynn behaves while in Taidong, which made us quite happy. And just as I predicted, the discount baby store had no chairs. Raelynn continued to behave even in the make-up store. Which is basically a tiny little room that has no A/C. I'm disappointed as we walk up though. A couple owns it and the woman is so nice and helpful with finding me what I want. She wasn't there this time though...just her husband. He's nice too but he has no idea about make-up or anti-aging lotions. He remembers us though and welcomes us in. My husband translates what I'm looking for and the guy tries desperately to find the things I want. I finally find everything and realize Raelynn has been sitting quietly on the floor, waiting for us.

We wanted to buy her a big helium balloon for her good behavior but when we went out of the store and looked for one of the 3 balloon guys we'd seen while walking, they were nowhere to be found. We kept looking even all the way to the car. We'd parked by a Japanese restaurant and the last time we'd gone to Taidong, Jeremy promised me we could try it when I wasn't pregnant. He pointed at it and smiled. Want to take a try? Hells yes! Sushi for Mommy! We got it to go but Raelynn was losing her patience. Jeremy grabbed her an ice cream before we pulled out of the parking space. We drove around Taidong some more, desperately looking for the balloon guys. We surmised they must have floated away.

Raelynn saved her tantrum for when we got home, which sucked. But you know what surprised me? NO ONE tried to touch the baby! I heard a few people marvel over the "xiao bao bao" (small baby) but no one bothered us. Well, one nosy woman told us as we were walking that we should put a hat on the baby. No one asked you, lady! But hey, when Raelynn was a baby, everyone came from miles around to tell us stupid shit like that. And only 1 person looked like they were going to touch her and that was the lady we usually buy toys from in the discount baby store. I told her nicely to please not touch the baby and Jeremy quickly interjected  that the baby was sleeping. The woman, nice as she is, was cramming her mouth full of cucumber at the time. People here are so damn nice but so damn clueless.

The next day though, we were desperate for milk and other necessities in this household so after church, we braved a trip to the supermarket. First, we sat in traffic for what seemed like 100 years. Then, we sat in a line, inching our way into the underground parking garage. Raelynn was becoming impatient yet again so we were trying our darndest to hurry the fuck up. Once inside the store, we ran around as though we were on one of those sweepstakes shows where you get 10 minutes to grab everything you want and race to a finish line. Juice. Cereal. Milk. Bread. Into the cart it goes in record speed. We get to the prepared foods and as Jeremy waits for tudou bien (potato bread) I grab a Japanese chicken sandwich wrap near the sushi. As I'm reaching for a sandwich, some stupid lady tried to touch Seoul's little feet. I swiveled away quickly and shouted at her. What a total moron! Seoul was sound asleep too. Why people here think this kind of thing is acceptable is beyond me. Especially when the child is visibly sleeping.

While waiting in line to pay, the woman in front of us started to come up to take a gander and I scooted in close to Jeremy. She was much nicer though. She said she didn't mean to startle me and that she just wanted to take a look but I was on high-alert after my close encounter with that other woman. The people behind us in the line had a small boy who looked a little older than Raelynn. He kept coming around to look at us and I heard his mother telling him that it was okay to look but don't touch the baby. At least some people here have manners. All in all though, it seems like less people are reaching in rudely to touch the baby and more and more of them are giving us our space. We'll have to do some more research the next time we go out though of course!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Someone Made Me Eat This: Bizarro Edition

Something VERY strange is going on, you guys. MIL is actually being useful AND helpful. AND! She's actually making different foods for us daily.

I know.

I'm as shocked as you are, perhaps even more so.

Yesterday, she surprised me by coming to take Raelynn out for a few hours in the morning so I could spend time with Seoul and rest. And then she brought Raelynn home and didn't come back until dinner! For that dinner, I regret that I didn't take photos (camera needed charging after taking so many photos of Seoul) because she made us these really meaty pork chops that fell off the bone. They were good. So good, I couldn't believe she made them. She also made a shrimp dish and some soup I didn't care for much but is traditional to eat after a baby. It wasn't horrible but I would have preferred not to eat it. I only ate it because I was "trying to show my nice" as my husband puts it. Seriously, he says that. But I was eating it as a way of having leverage if she does overstep her bounds..."Hey Honey, remember the time your mom made that weird soup and I ate it even though I didn't want to and I didn't complain? Yeah, so here's the favor I'm calling in..."

Today, she tried to take Raelynn out in the morning but Miss Lazy apparently refused to get up! She slept the whole night in her room like a good girl and at around 6am, got up and came to our room. She snuggled up right next to me and after a long night of nursing a very hungry little piggy of a newborn, I zonked right out. MIL didn't stick around to annoy us either. When Raelynn couldn't be extracted from sleep, she left.

And she didn't come back until dinner time. I have to give her a huge chunk of respect for this evening's dinner because we had a huge torrential downpour. I figured she wouldn't show up until later because of the rain but she walked through that storm to our house just to make us dinner. How could I possibly be rude to her in any way after that? The storm didn't last very long - maybe 30 or 40 minutes. She could have waited but she walked in that mess. I salute you for that MIL, and for tonight's dinner.

No longer is she trying to force me to eat the kinds of foods she thinks are delicious all the time. Sure, I get food like that from her (like the strange traditional soup), but she's now finally realizing that I need foods that I find delicious. I'm beginning to really suspect my husband of having interceded on my behalf because this is what she made us for dinner...
What do we have here? We have a spinach and garlic noodle dish which tasted way better than this photo lets on. Behind that, she made some sort of mashed potato wannabe thing which was a solid effort for her. Mine, of course, are way better, but I really appreciate her making this and that it actually tasted good enough that I didn't have to fake that I enjoyed it. Same with those chicken wings. The xifan - this kind is a soup of watery rice - was blah though. I took a few bites to be polite. Not pictured: the special soup from yesterday that she made just for me. Just as I was enjoying what I thought was a normal meal, here comes that damn traditional shit again. Urgh.

Maybe I'm just overtired from having another baby and am hallucinating normal-ish food. Is that possible?

Then again, my kitchen looked like this after so I think everything is back to normal...
No worries. Jeremy cleaned it up. Maybe I am dreaming after all...

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Story Of Seoul


They say every birth is different. Just like every person is different. Man, they sure weren't kidding! If you need a refresher on how Raelynn came into the world, click here. You may also want to read about how MIL made me nuts right after coming home from the hospital so click here too.

This is how our sweet little Seoul came into the world...

On Monday, July 14th, you'll no doubt recall my last meal of grossness served up by MIL. On that day, I'd been having false labor signs. Braxton Hicks contractions. I knew it wasn't baby time because they kept disappearing when I'd get up and move around. They also came with no regularity or increase in frequency. The only thing that ever remained the same was the duration of each contraction: just one minute. It was unpleasant and uncomfortable but before I could really complain, it would vanish and I'd be fine for hours before another one would come up.

That night, I took a nice, hot shower and tried to relax. I figured my body was gearing up for the big moment and I should take it easy. I went to bed early but around 1am, I woke up to a contraction. And this one was VERY different. It was more painful than the others had been. Plus, it began in the lower back and shot through my abdomen. But again, it only lasted one minute. I fell back asleep and 30 or so minutes later, I felt the same thing. I thought about waking Jeremy but I wanted to be sure before I set us into pre-baby-panic-mode. So I watched the clock. And the next hour? 2 contractions again. Maybe I'm crazy. I watched another hour go by with the same results. I knew then that this kid was getting ready to come out.

It was 3am. The other thing I knew was that if we did go to the hospital right then, they'd only tell me to try to get some sleep first. So I tried to get some sleep in the comfort of our home. It was a futile attempt. But my contractions only became 25 minutes apart and didn't increase in length or pain so I knew we had time.

Early in the morning, about 6:30am, Jeremy woke up to use the bathroom. That's when I told him. He called the hospital to let Dr. Wang know but she was already in surgery delivering another baby. They told us we should start getting over to the hospital as soon as we could. Jeremy then called his parents. I hugged and kissed Raelynn, still a bit terrified of delivering the baby inside me and hoping that I would make it out alive to see her again.

We rounded up our bags and spent time with Raelynn before MIL arrived. After a tearful goodbye with Raelynn, we were off. The hospital isn't that far away but since it was now rush hour on Tuesday, July 15th, we were stuck in traffic for an hour. I had 3 contractions in the car during that time, much more painful than before.

When we finally arrived at the hospital, we hurried into Dr. Wang's office. She had changed from her surgery garb and looked as though she was expecting us. She wanted to run a few tests first so we had them done. She was trying to check the scar tissue from my first c-section to see if there would be any problems. When we'd seen her during our last check-up over the previous weekend, she'd told me not to eat or drink anything at least 4 hours before my c-section. I hadn't even had a drop of water since bedtime and now the ultrasound tech was being a bitch because she said I didn't have enough in my bladder for her to see well enough. She was urging me to go drink more water even though the doctor told me not to. Moron. On top of that, I had to pee so badly I seriously thought I was going to lose control of my bladder during that scan.

We went back to Dr. Wang and as we spoke to her, I had a horrible contraction. I gripped the back of one of the chairs in her office and she then ordered her assistant to send us up to check into our room and prep for surgery. Off we went. Jeremy was excited because our room was a lucky number in Chinese: 618. He said this was a very good sign. I just cried and cried because I was scared and excited all at once. Plus, I was finally allowed to pee and the bathrooms in the hospital rooms are soooooooooooooooo much nicer than the bathroom you can use on the first floor.

No sooner than I get in there, my husband runs back to the car to get our bags and nurses begin to file in to prep me for surgery. Even though I'm scared, I know this is best for me now because I'd been in labor since the wee hours of the morning and wasn't even dilated yet. Another long labor would await me if I didn't go through with my planned c-section.

A gurney comes in. Some hospital clothes. I smell rubbing alcohol and I begin to panic. The nurses are all very nice despite the language barrier. They speak limited English but they try to comfort me. Another woman comes in with forms she wants me to sign. I can't read them because they're in Chinese and Jeremy snaps at her about that. He handles the forms while I'm prepped and moved onto the gurney.

They take my blood and I cry at the sting of pain. I'm so scared now. I'm dreading this. This sucks. Why does giving birth have to suck so fucking much, I wonder. Then, they start wheeling me down the hall. I scream for Jeremy who runs alongside, trying to comfort me. We ride the elevator to where the operating rooms are. It's very sterile, which is reassuring, but also terrifying at the same time. I don't want my husband to leave me. They tell him he has to dress in scrubs if he's going to come into the OR and they assure me not to worry. Into the OR I go. It's much more freaky than I remember from Raelynn's birth. There are about 5 people in there prepping everything, speaking to me in halting English and all I can do is cry. The anesthesiologist is very nice, and desperate to calm me down so she can issue the epidural. She pats my head and tells me not to cry and to please lay on my side. Please don't move, she tells me as she rubs something cold along my spine. Suddenly, the OR doors open and I hope it's my husband. It's not but the person who I see makes me sigh with great relief. It's Dr. Wang. I feel so much better seeing her there. Her English is much better than her team's. I ask for my husband and she tells me she's worried he will become sick if he sees the surgery. She says it will be okay because she can talk to me in English which was really the only valid reason for my husband coming in.

Dr. Wang sees the panic in my eyes and she tells me quite kindly not to worry about anything. She does this every day, many times a day. I'm in good hands. I know this. It's exactly why I wanted her to deliver this baby just like she did with Raelynn.

The epidural takes effect and I cannot feel my legs. At all. It's so weird. They have a mask ready in case I need to be knocked out completely but I don't want it. There's a large canvas draped over the rest of my body. I can't see anything that is happening to me which is a huge relief. I can only feel a slight little tugging. It doesn't hurt. It just feels very strange. The anesthesiologist stays by my head. She tells me if I feel anything and want to sleep to tell her. I look about the room wildly. I hate this. I want it to end.

And suddenly, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! There's my baby! I remember hearing Raelynn when she was born but I was so foggy from the anesthesia it was part of my drugged out trip. As this baby cries, I say, "My baby! It's my baby!" "Yes," I hear Dr. Wang say. "Everything is very good." "It's a girl, right?" I ask her, hoping and praying that what they'd told me months ago hadn't been to just make me happy. "Yes, it's a girl," Dr. Wang tells me. THANK GOD.

I begin to relax now. My baby is alive and well. It is not a boy, no offense to the moms I know with boys. I'm just so relieved to have another girl. I can see her being carted off into the corner to my left as 3 people from Dr. Wang's team clean her up. I just want to look at her but I know I have to be stitched back up. This part took a while but I remember reading that about c-sections. It seemed like seconds when I had Raelynn only because of the drugs. Now I wondered how long it was taking as Dr. Wang closed me up. I also felt warm. It felt like forever, and again, the anesthesiologist told me that she could put me to sleep if I wanted to be out. I just told her I felt warm and wished they could take the canvas off of me so I'd feel cooler.

And then it was over. They counted: yi, er, san! And lifted me off the operating table and back onto my gurney and out I went. There was my husband, overjoyed and crying with relief. We all went back into the room. I was moved into my bed and had my vitals checked out yet again. I was so much more with it this time though it truly freaked me out that I seriously could not feel my legs. I tried to wiggle my toes and nothing. They told me it would be fine soon and that I had to lay flat for 6 hours. On this hard, awful hospital bed. But the good news was they were handing me my little baby. My sweet Seoul Susie Qu.

It's no wonder they use babies that are 3 to 6 months old in movies, TV shows and commercials. You know why, right? Because newborns are so tiny and scrawny. They're wrinkly and honestly, look like little old men. But we love them anyway, don't we? I loved Seoul when I saw her too. Later I would learn the downside to marrying a man that makes me laugh so much...it truly sucks to have a funny husband when you've had a c-section. Laughing hurts. He called Seoul "Grandpa Face" and I thought I was going to die from the pain the laughter caused.
 Grandpa Face! Hahahahaha!

I breastfed my little angel quite easily and breathed a sigh of relief. Now we were over the other side of the wall. Now the recovery begins.

I hate hospitals. I always have. I've never had to stay in a hospital in the US so I can only relate what it's like here in China. I'm sure it's very different than the states so for those of you that have gone through a c-section back home, I'd love to hear from you in the comments about what your experience was like in the hospital. It would be neat to compare.

In China, you must bring your own towels, toilet paper, soap, and all sorts of things you'd never think about bringing in the US. They did supply us with a gift bag that included my hospital pajamas, those shitty kind of diapers you know I hate from when Raelynn was a newborn, and some other stuff which impressively included soap, a plastic soap dish and even a roll of toilet paper. Wow, they're stepping up their game, I remember thinking.

My room had 2 hospital beds in it because it's typical your spouse or a family member will stay with you to assist you. Nurses are for changing IVs and administering shots. But NOT emptying your catheter bag! Jeremy had to empty it out. You know your husband loves you very much when he dumps out bags of your pee for you. He also helped me to the bathroom when the catheter was removed. They'd given me many IVs during my stay but one of the last ones I got was some sort of nutrient and I had to keep it elevated so Jeremy had to come with me to the bathroom.

We also had one nurse tell Jeremy that HE had to change the sheets on my bed for me. This was when I still had the catheter in and couldn't get up. I felt gross and needed my mattress guard and sheets changed. Fortunately, another nurse came in and took care of it, Jeremy only being asked to offer minimal assistance in helping me roll over.

The first 2 days in the hospital, it seemed like every 5 minutes, someone was knocking on our door to come in for this or that. Just as I'd start falling asleep, someone would knock. It was highly irritating. I would have been even more annoyed that first day when my in-laws showed up if not for the sight of my precious Raelynn. I was so happy to see her little face and so grateful to visit with her.

In addition to the constant interruptions by the staff, the air conditioning became an issue. They'd turned it off in our room. Jeremy flipped out on my behalf. I was in pain and sweating and I couldn't sleep. AT ALL. The night nurse was a huge pain in the ass about this, saying that 26 Celcius was a fine temperature. My husband yelled that we'd paid 10,000 rmb for our room and on top of that, I was a foreign person. I remember hearing him yell that I felt sick because of the heat. It was true. Finally in the morning, they sorted out the air conditioning issue and it stayed at a nice 22 Celcius the rest of our stay. I was also given an extra shot of pain medicine and I was finally able to fall asleep.

The bed was another horrible problem for me. Because I've never had to stay in a US hospital, I have nothing to compare it to. But I felt like my back was becoming worse because of this bed. The mattress was very thin and on top of a metal frame. I tried to roll on my sides but because of the surgery it was so painful to do so. After a few days, that pain got better but my hips now ached from the metal frame of the bed. As you can probably imagine, it was a very happy moment for me when I was told I could go home the next morning.

 You can see here what the hospital bed looks like. Jeremy's bed is identical to mine. Look at that thin mattress!

 So we went in on a Tuesday morning and we got to leave on a Saturday morning. MIL kept her promise to me about bringing Raelynn, which I'm very grateful for. She brought her every day. Even though she dressed her in the same clothes every day. Even underwear. She said she bathed her but Raelynn stunk (and of course, so did my in-laws - like they always do). I couldn't wait to wash her when we got home so she'd smell nice again.

Speaking of the in-laws, let's talk about them since I know you're dying to know about that, aren't you? Of course you are! That's why you read this blog, isn't it?

I was relieved that my in-laws didn't kill Raelynn while they watched her. They told me Raelynn cried all the time for me, which made me feel bad. She must have really hated having them watch her the whole time. Sorry, my sweet! They didn't touch the window in her room either, so I have to hand it to them for listening to my wishes in that regard. On Friday, my husband ran his parents and Raelynn home in the car so he could get my passport. We needed it to make Seoul's birth certificate. We have to present this at the US Embassy so we can get a report for a consular birth abroad. Jeremy was worried to ask his parents to bring my passport. He thought they might lose it or forget to lock up the drawer we keep it in and Raelynn would destroy it and the other important documents housed in there.

When he returned, I asked him how our house looked. He made a face and I knew. But before I could cry, he promised me he would clean it up. When we actually got home on Saturday morning, I thought I was going to see the aftermath of a tornado. But it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. The kitchen was a royal zoo but I chose not to get too angry because, for one, Jeremy promised to clean it all himself, and for another, MIL was in there actively cooking a big welcome home lunch. Never mind that it wasn't anything I wanted to eat but it was nice of her. The other mess was FIL's fault. Raelynn's toys were everywhere and he refused to act like a grown up and tell her to clean it. I pulled her aside and talked to her about the mess. Then I told her to have Grandpa help her. He was shocked that she would listen to me and clean up. I was shocked that he would let her tell him no when he asked her to do something. That's one of the things that bothers me so much about my in-laws. They don't realize how much more damaging it is to let her have her way like that.
 Those are just some of the hard boiled eggs she made for me. She also made me another big bowl of xifan. This kind of xifan looks a lot like baby poop. Especially how she made it. She should have used more water. The food was gross but it was nice to drink again.


 Raelynn is so happy to have us home. Look at that face! I love her! And look at that food - gross!

Soon, the floors were cleaned up, toys were in their right place and my husband had poured me a glass of wine. I was feeling better and enjoying being home, even if we had to have lunch with his parents. After eating, FIL went home and MIL and Jeremy cleaned up the kitchen. Then MIL spent some time holding the baby. After a while though. My husband hopped on his computer and just ignored that his mother was here in our living room, doing nothing but staring into space. I hate when she does that. There's no reason for you to be here now. Thank you for lunch. Thank you for taking care of Raelynn. It is 1:30pm. We aren't eating dinner until 6:30pm. PLEASE GO HOME. I calmly explained to Jeremy that THIS is something that gets on my nerves about his mother so he politely told her to leave and we'd see her later. That made me so happy. This house is just too small to have someone I don't need sitting around taking up space on the couch to be sitting around taking up space on the couch.

For dinner, she came back and made better food. WAY better food. She had these roasted chicken legs that were delicious. She must have bought them somewhere. There's no way she could make something that good. She also made steamed clams again. And the obligatory xifan. And she didn't overstay her welcome into the evening. She cooked. She cleaned. She held the baby. She kissed Raelynn goodnight before I read her stories. And then, she went home! Amazing!

Now I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth but here's the stuff my in-laws fucked up: the closet door in Raelynn's room. FIL busted it off the track. God only knows why he would do such a thing. Derp. The kitchen sink. It was leaking again! Lord knows we had enough problems with that sink. But, it turned out something got knocked loose with the faucet and Jeremy was able to tighten it himself. Still, I'm not surprised. We had so many sink problems because MIL just bangs the big pans and cutting boards into it without a care in the world.

Also, someone, I'm guessing MIL, stored a bag of eggplant in the kitchen cabinets. Instead of the refrigerator. I went into the cabinet today to get some flour and I smelled something foul. I nominated Jeremy to check it out and he made the grisly discovery. I'd also found a bag of eggplant and carrots on the side of the refrigerator today. Fortunately, those were not rotten and I put them in the fridge. Why she does this IN SUMMER when EVERYTHING you leave out rots is beyond me. Especially when there is so much room inside that fridge!

Ok...now something nice...something nice. FIL cleaned our fish tank and it looks great. He also deep-cleaned our air conditioner in our bedroom and now it's ice-cold in here. That was nice and helpful. We can run it on low and it cools our whole room, not to mention the living room when we have the sliding door open.

Yesterday was Sunday, our 2nd day at home. And my husband had told his parents not to come. Never on Sundays. But I was truly dreading today, Monday. I worried she'd come at the crack of dawn, making more hard boiled eggs than we could ever eat. Which is a Chinese tradition when you have a baby. Your family makes hard boiled eggs and gives them to everyfuckingone they see. But when your Chinese MIL gives you too many hard boiled eggs, you make deviled eggs, which is just what I did for dinner last night. Jeremy went nuts for them and scolded me for never before making them for him. Well, no worries honey...we still have about 20 more hard-boiled eggs in the fridge.

I heard our land line ring this morning and became tense with fear. Jeremy came back from answering it and told me his parents would come around 8am or 9am to take Raelynn out for a bit so I could rest. What? Really? Now wait...that's actually helpful. And they did. They took her out until about 11am. And then I thought MIL would bother me some more but nope! She just dropped off Raelynn and a package of Japanese diapers a friend of hers had sent for us. AND SHE LEFT!

She didn't come until 5pm and she's only here to make us dinner. I'm shocked. And delighted. But fearful. I seriously SERIOUSLY hope this is how she will be during this time - HELPFUL. I seriously SERIOUSLY hope she will come take Raelynn for walks on the 4 days she's supposed to come so the kid can get out into the world while I care for her little sister. And I seriously SERIOUSLY hope she'll respect our boundaries. If she can do this, then I don't mind her helping at all. We'll see. We know how she is though, don't we?

And then of course, there's the reason for this whole entire post: Seoul. You know why we named her that, don't you? Because Jeremy and I met and fell in love in Seoul. Susie, her middle name, is another tribute to my mom, whose middle name was Sue. We'd discussed that our 2nd child would always be named Seoul, regardless of gender. It was the middle name that would be different if it was a boy or girl. If we were having a boy, Seoul's middle name would have been Michael, just like my father.

You know, already, we're getting bugged by people to have a 3rd child. NO. No way. I am enjoying not being pregnant anymore, thankyouverymuch, though I will always be supremely grateful that I got to experience such a special thing twice in my life. When we were still in the hospital, MIL and Jeremy were talking and I could hear them talking about x and y chromosomes. I asked why and Jeremy said his mother said that the next one would be a boy. I said that he better tell her to find another family to annoy because 2 children is plenty for me. I'm 38 and have had 2 c-sections now. I'm not having a 3rd child as I go into my 40s. NO. When we left the hospital, one of the staff members there said we should try for a boy next. GOD! What IS it with Asians and boys?!? They are not everything! Urgh!

So how is Seoul? Well, she's, so far, a very sweet and relatively easy-going baby. Raelynn, as much as we love her, was a very difficult baby. She cried ALL the time. About EVERYTHING. She's a wonderful child but we were exhausted with her as a baby. Seoul seems to have a very different personality. But one thing's for sure...Raelynn loves her little sister. The first couple days have been rough but Raelynn is learning to be helpful and not to make too much noise when her sister sleeps. I hope these 2 will be the best of friends as they grow up. Nothing makes me happier than to give these girls that amazing sibling experience I had growing up with my brother, Phillip.
Raelynn loves Seoul, and no, she's not the reason Seoul's crying here. When Seoul started crying, Raelynn climbed up next to her to comfort her. Awwww!

I still can't believe I have a family of 4 now. I still can't believe this little person came out of me. And I still can't believe Raelynn was ever this small. She seems so gigantic and grown up now. It's trippy. What's craziest of all is that during my pregnancy, I remember asking my dad if I would love both of my children. How will I love them both? He assured me I would absolutely love them both. I never could have imagined loving someone as much as I love Raelynn, and that's no dis on my husband. He knows just what I mean by that. But as I held Seoul one night in our hospital room, I was talking to her and she just looked up at me and I cried. And I realized I just love her so much. I love her with every bit of my heart. And with my whole soul (or should I say Seoul), just the way I love Raelynn.

You were right, Daddy. Just like always.

And I'm quite certain Jeremy feels exactly the same way.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Welcome To The World, Kid!

Remember the food SOMEONE (coughcoughMILcough) made me eat the other night? And how Jeremy promised we'd get some real food before I had the baby? Well, let's just say that THAT crap was the last food I would get to ingest before my little one decided to pop on out. And that Jeremy still owes me a special meal.

But I'm beyond overjoyed to be a mommy to 2 beautiful children now and even more excited to show off my latest princess to the world. There will be a full-blown post about all the stuff you're gagging to know - labor, hospital experience, in-laws (spoiler alert: Raelynn survived their care - THANK GOD!) and more - but you'll just have to wait. I'm, to no one's surprise, quite tired, and am enjoying getting to know my new baby.

I was personally thrilled that the doctors weren't telling me what I wanted to hear when I begged them to tell me about the gender. It was really a girl and I couldn't be happier with that. Just what I wanted!

So here she is! Introducing Seoul Susie Qu, born July 15, 2014, 11am. She weighed in at 3.2 kg and was clocked at 51 cm. We all love her so very much! 






Monday, July 14, 2014

Someone Made Me Eat This: Same Ol' Shit, Different Day

10 days to go until the baby is supposed to come out via c-section. Baby didn't get the memo. I've been having Braxton Hicks contractions randomly throughout the day. It's a little unsettling, wondering if it will turn into the full-blown thing and we'll have to dash out the door with our bags while I pray to God that all turns out well and that I've remembered to throw in a novel for reading material as well as a handful of earplugs (so I don't page the nurse to kill my husband for his snoring) and my prized make-up collection so I don't look like a hideous sea beast when I do leave the hospital.

So having MIL come to cook dinner on this Monday evening was fine by me. Because I'm tired and I feel like the bottom of my baby bump is going to crash out onto the floor. Not to mention the kitchen is hot as hell and I seriously cannot take feeling any sweatier than I already do.

But of course, with MIL coming to relieve me of this chore, I'm stuck eating her vile creations and enduring her and her husband. Jeremy promised me that we'd get something delicious the night before we have the c-section and now I fear this baby is going to just split me in two first, leaving me to dream about pizzas while I'm chained to the catheter in the hospital. Please stay in there, kid. Come on! You owe Mommy! Plus, pizza! You like that stuff! Stay. In. There. PLEASE.

 Celery and randomly shredded bits of chicken. WHY?!? Why can't my husband's mother be a good cook? Why can't they be Italian dammit? Oh of course I just HAD TO fall in love with the handsome Chinese guy I saw while crossing the street. Way to go, Jennifer. I don't regret that though and I never will but I do regret having to eat his mom's cooking. Blah!

Steamed eggplant. I love eggplant. Very, very much. I even enjoy it steamed, from time to time. MIL couldn't possibly have known that my husband, who kindly cooked for me last night when I was too tired to do so, made exactly this, with a garlic soy dipping sauce, which she also made (not pictured). I don't blame her for that. What I do blame her for is OVER-steaming them so the color is all sad and washed out. I would have done great things with that eggplant, involving tomatoes and cheese. Sigh.

 Two kinds of fried Chinese flatbreads. On the left, it's quite greasy and I'll admit, a bit tasty, though thanks to the glutenousy flour she always uses, it had that chewy quality like a dumpling would have. The stuff on the right she blasphemously calls "pizza." She made this the last time too but she burnt it.
From her scary kitchen to ours, she brought this dish of overcooked green beans topped with steamed shrimp. Yes, this is my life.

More fresh steamed clams. Thank goodness these were there.

And yes, you should know by now that there was xifan. There is ALWAYS xifan. She'll be bringing a jug of xifan to the fucking hospital when she brings Raelynn to see me...you know she will! Even though the hospital will have xifan it will serve me. Help!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Crazy Chinese Road Construction

Since I've moved to Qingdao, I've been looking forward to the subway system. Which was under construction before we moved. I loved living in Seoul for many reasons and one of the things I loved was just being able to hop the trains around town without a care. When we moved here though, the subway was being advertised with an opening date of 2014.

Well, it's 2014 and guess what's not ready yet? Yup. You guessed it. The subway. Lord knows when they'll finish it now but as they work on it around the city, you can see all the construction popping up everywhere. How my husband drives here with these wackos AND is able to deal with different road blocks and changes on a daily basis is beyond me.

It's of course expected that to build this thing, they need to tear up some of the roads and lay pipes and all kinds of shit down there. But sometimes I swear it's like they break up a road, lay the pipes and concrete, set the road again and then break it once more. On big roads, I especially expect to see this.

But not on our street! They are now digging up our entire street and this is how they do it here. Oh China!
 I'm sorry these are such poor quality. I was trying to snap them quickly as my husband looked for parking. I'm taking these from the back seat as I am 38 weeks pregnant and feel it's safer to sit in the back being this pregnant.

To our left, you'll see a big crappy makeshift blue metal wall. You can see just ahead a small break in the wall where they are tearing up the other side of our small street.

 Here's the break in the wall. Look at the ground! What a mess!

Another view, directly across from our building. We were so lucky there was a spot open to the right. And can you see the van coming right at us from the other direction? Lovely.

As Jeremy parked the car, I snapped this shot of the mess of pipes they're laying down in the ground. It's such a cluster fuck out there. This photo doesn't even do it justice.

I should also mention that when we went to my check-up the other day, the wall was extended even further down the street. Some idiot woman took her son into the street and tried to pass cars along the wall. There is a perfectly good sidewalk on the right. My husband yelled at her for being an idiot. Why in the hell are you getting into the street when there's a sidewalk?!? She looked at us like we were crazy. The stupid is strong in this one. Even my in-laws have more sense than that.

And speaking of construction crap, the people upstairs are just tempting me to come choke them with my bare hands. They finally stopped the "I swear this is the last bit of remodeling for this apartment" crap on Wednesday and all was quiet (except for the destruction of our internet connection) until today. Sunday. 5pm. We're watching TV when suddenly with no warning, we hear a power drill so loud it sounds like it's coming through the ceiling. It scared Raelynn so badly she ran, crying into my arms. Don't scare my kid you fuckwits. The noise stopped after about 5 minutes but I'm just so sick of this kind of construction bullshit both inside my building and outside in the city. To the people upstairs: watch your back.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Someone Made Me Eat This: MIL Steps Up Her Game

Yesterday, I was spared a visit from MIL who went out to her country house to spend time with her sister. But today, I wasn't so lucky. Jeremy informed me that since MIL didn't come on Thursday, she'd come today. And because I agreed to 4 days a week, I had to smile and be ok with it.

I have to say the old gal's really taken to heart that lecture my husband gave her about not serving the same shit every day because she really pulled out all the stops. Not that this is her best effort ever, but she put in so much more effort than she has been that I had to ask Jeremy if it was a Chinese holiday I wasn't aware of. No, no holiday today. Just MIL taking us very seriously. Thank you, MIL.

So, I know you want to see what she made us, right? Of course you do! Why else do you read my blog, right?
 I'll be honest...when I saw this, I did not have high hopes at all for this meal. I thought I'd be sneaking off to the kitchen to snarf down bags of mini donuts that my parents sent in that package. I hate this dish. Potatoes, scary meat bits and some overcooked green beans. I love how she tries to plate it with the 6 large shrimp on top, like she's Emeril now. This dish is always horrible. I hate it. The shrimp, however, were actually very good. I'll give her that.

 Spinach? No. I'm actually not sure but if I had to guess, I'd say it tasted a lot like celery so I think it was the leafy part of the celery. You'll see why I suspect this in a moment. How'd it taste? Not bad but she over-garlicked it for my tastes so it was a bit overwhelming. Not awful though.

 And here's why I suspected celery leaves in the last dish. This is a very common side dish in China. Boiled peanuts with carrots and celery. It's pretty tasty though I am so much happier eating this when I can drink beer alongside it.

 This sloppy mess of zucchini was actually much better tasting than it looked. MIL grows vegetables out at this country house of hers so she was showcasing her fresh produce. My only problem with this is all the oil that poor zucchini is swimming in. Gak!

 Fresh steamed clams! These were really nice and fresh today too. Nice job, MIL!

 Burnt farts? What IS this hot mess? MIL told my husband to tell me it was a Chinese sandwich. Nice try, lady. It's a floury Chinese flatbread stuffed with a pork and vegetable mixture, similar to what she'd put inside her wontons and all her other stuffed things (dumplings, stuffed buns...you name it). It wasn't terrible but it was very greasy and a little burnt-ish. Big on salty too. I ate one small piece and she kept trying to give me more. Nooooooooo! Stay away!

Not pictured, we were also served that damn xifan soup crap. My husband insisted I eat it. "It's healthy! It's good for you!" Tomorrow, we must go for our 38th week check-up for the baby so I told him if Dr. Wang says that this xifan shit has any real special healing powers or whatever the fuck Jeremy and his batty family think, then I will shut up and drink it without complaining. Dr. Wang is pretty on-point. When I had Raelynn, MIL insisted that I couldn't eat cold foods because that was bad for me and my breast milk. Jeremy called Dr. Wang and asked her about that and that's why she's my hero - she said that was ridiculous and that I could eat whatever I wanted. Hopefully she'll have my back on this xifan shit or else I'm stuck eating it with a big spoon and a big smile from now on.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Another Reason To Hate The People Upstairs

Back in May, I complained about our new upstairs neighbors. Maybe I should be happy that this unit is finally not being rented out to groups of noisy, filthy and rude migrant workers. That is a plus but this couple is maddeningly annoying. How so? Because since May, they have been randomly remodeling their apartment with no rhyme or reason. Or notice. Every time my husband has spoken to them about the noise, they promise they'll be finished by the next day.

But they never are. And this has been going on SINCE MAY. On Sunday, they were making an insane amount of construction-related noise and Jeremy went to take a look. They were putting hardwood flooring in. Which is funny because all the other noise they made truly sounded like they shattered ceramic tiles, rebuffed the floor, retiled it and then jackhammered that shit out of there. Anyway, they promised on Sunday that this was the end of it all and they would be done that day. Of course they weren't. They kept disturbing the peace through Wednesday.

Today though, it seemed quiet enough. My husband decided to work from home today. He's worried that as we approach the birth of the baby, if he's too far away, he can't help me. He'd been getting sent just outside the city on 2-hour drives lately and he requested due to our situation to stay close to home. So it was nice having him home even though we had to let him work. For lunch, Jeremy sweetly went and cooked for us. Raelynn was busy watching a new TV show she's gone crazy for on Nickelodeon, Peppa Pig. I have to admit it's kind of cute, plus, she's so hooked on it that it buys us 30 minutes of peace.

I took this opportunity to sneak away and check my email. Suddenly, the satellite went out, which isn't anything too unusual. It seems to happen more during this time of year than in the colder months. It's annoying but usually pops back up rather quickly. Raelynn begins screaming and crying for Peppa Pig so Jeremy goes to check out what's up with the TV. It's then that I notice that our WiFi has completely flatlined. And that's spooky because that NEVER happens.

Thinking it perhaps a fluke, I restart my computer. But it still has no connection. The WiFi is gone! Still cooking, Jeremy returns to the kitchen while I console Raelynn and try to explain to her that we have to call the internet people to help us. It takes a while but she finally chills out and I'm able to distract her with old Dora episodes on the iPad.

After lunch, Jeremy calls the internet company and after several back and forth phone calls, we finally get a service guy who comes right out to see what the problem is. We'd of course done all the usual things - restart everything, unplug and then replug the WiFi box - and were still not connected. The most troubling thing of all was that the WiFi box was blinking away like it usually does but we weren't able to connect to anything.

We began to suspect that the people upstairs might have something to do with it.

And wouldn't you know, they likely did? Though from the looks of it, the service guy felt it was probably accidental. This has happened to us 2 other times before but the other 2 times, someone deliberately sabotaged the line in the stairwell. This time, the service guy said it looked like someone snagged something on it and pulled it apart. With these idiots going up and down and up and down with all their remodeling tools, I'm not surprised this happened at all. Just annoyed.

Here's the piece the guy gave to Jeremy that came off our wiring. It was all mangled so he just cut it off and replaced everything.
Thanks, idiots. At least we were spared a visit from the true village idiots today. MIL's sister was meeting her at their hillbilly house out at Laoshan Mountain. Good for her. She should be busy doing things for herself instead of meddling. I can't even imagine being forced to go out there right now though...they don't have A/C in that home. I was uncomfortable when we went and it was September. Imagine how sucky and hot it is there in July! Ugh!

In any event, we're hoping the buttheads upstairs will watch out with their shit in the stairs and not fuck up our cables again. Or begin another remodeling project. This pregnant lady can only take so much you know.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Indecent Exposure: Spongebob Edition

Jeremy went into work a bit late today in order to help me take Raelynn for a vaccination. Because all of this is in Chinese, my husband takes responsibility for paying attention to when she's had to go in the past and made sure all her shots are in order. Now it seems we only have to deal with this once a year, which is great because Raelynn is now of the age where she knows what's about to go down. Poor girl.

We get to the vaccination place and it looks a lot cleaner than I remember. Maybe it felt dirtier because there were more people in there on my previous visits though I haven't been in a while. Before Raelynn started going to school, my in-laws would take her. We waited on line to check in and a woman in front of us was asking a million inane questions. She was annoying everyone on line right along with us. It's hot in there and I notice with mild amusement, there's a wall unit A/C set to 26 Celcius and the window beside it is open. Brilliant. Only in Asia. As the idiotic woman with too many questions gabbed away, Raelynn began to realize what was about to happen and began to get squirmy and upset. I struggled to hold on to her, bribing her with the promise of ice cream in her very near future which seemed to do the trick. Temporarily. We finally finish checking in and then have to wait on the line for the actual vaccination.

In that room, they had the A/C set to 26 Celcius as well, but at least the windows were closed so it was a lot cooler in there. And again, Stupid-Asking-Too-Many-Questions-Lady was in front, asking more stupid questions, to the point that Raelynn and the 2 other children in line began freaking out because they definitely knew what was in store for them. The people behind us complained to my husband about this woman and how her prolonging the process for everyone was making the other children upset when it should really be a quick thing. I agreed. I had Jeremy restrain Raelynn while the nurse administered the shot. When she cried, I cried, because I'm 9 months pregnant and because I cannot stand for Raelynn to be in any pain. When she hurts, I hurt. So I hugged her and kissed her and assured her we were going home for ice cream immediately.

As we were leaving the hospital parking lot, Raelynn noticed a man just outside the parking gate with a big bunch of balloons. You see these guys everywhere here and I thought this guy's pretty damn smart to sit outside the children's hospital where many crying children come and go. What a brilliant way to sell off your balloons. Many times when we see these kinds of people at the shopping malls or beaches, we placate Raelynn with a "we'll see" but today seemed like a perfect time to give in and buy her a balloon. Jeremy pulled up to him and, at Raelynn's request, asked for the Spongebob balloon.

And now we had a happy kid again, completely forgetting the horrible sting moments before from her vaccination. She had a Spongebob balloon and she was going to get a big bowl of ice cream. Things were looking up.

We arrive home shortly after and as Jeremy and I frantically turn on both A/C units to full blast arctic cold, I notice something. The Spongebob balloon seems to have an unintentional wang. Seriously.

 Raelynn almost seems to be wondering the same thing. Here's a better view of our indecently exposed Spongebob...

 It was all we could do to not keel over and die from laughter once we realized it looked like Spongebob was hanging loose. Next time, we'll buy her a genital-free balloon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My How The Tables Have Turned!

Yesterday was Monday, which meant that, thanks to our most recent compromise, MIL was going to come over for dinner. Annoying as that was, I knew I had to keep up my end of the bargain and smile politely through it all. Never did I in a million years envision this kind of outcome though.

I actually began to grow concerned because at 6:30pm, MIL still had not shown up. I should inform you that she's well aware that we bathe Raelynn and put her to bed at 8pm. This is not news to her. I'm not disrupting Raelynn's bedtime routine on a daily basis just to accommodate MIL. If you want to spend time with your grandchild, move your ass and come over earlier. This isn't some Chinese holiday for which I'd gladly let Raelynn stay up later because it's special.

But still, I'm nice when she finally arrives at about 6:40pm. And I continue to be nice even though Raelynn is hungry but MIL is just sitting around like a bird turd on a rusted-out junker. I fight the urge to get angry and instead go tell her that Raelynn is hungry and she needs to eat. I also kindly tell her that Raelynn needs a bath after dinner and she needs to go to sleep at 8pm because she's not napping anymore since school is out. Oh, oh, oh! She acts so surprised by the time. What, do you not pay attention to the clock in your house anymore? Or the one in mine? Or how about the time on your phone? Why is it so hard for my in-laws to grasp the concept of time? Urgh...

She trots out some food she's made at her house of grossness and brought on over though I failed to photograph it. That's ok because it's the same old shit she's served before. I can seriously make a stock photo catalog of the barftacular offerings she always sets forth for our consumption. Here they are, pulled from my Someone Made Me Eat This series of posts:


Yes, all of this crap. Again. Plus wontons for Raelynn. Again. Which, if you read carefully in this post, Jeremy asked her specifically not to give her because she makes them EVERY night for her. MIL has been having some problems with her scary teeth in recent months but despite our pleas, she refuses to see a dentist about it. So she makes softer food. Which is fine FOR HER but Raelynn's teeth (and our teeth for that matter) are just fine. We don't need (or want) to be ingesting mush for our meals.

But now, here's how everything took an interesting turn. Because my husband came in a short while later as MIL was plopping this crap onto the table. And he saw the wontons. And the other same old, same old crap. And he heaved a large sigh and sat down in our room for a moment, rubbing his face, frustrated. And then, he did the most marvelous thing: he told her to stop it with the wontons. But Raelynn likes wontons, she protests. Yes, but she also likes pizza and you don't see us giving her only pizza every single day, do you?

He very smartly and kindly told her again no more wontons. And then he said that for the next day, I would be making the food and she could join us for dinner and shovel it in Raelynn's mouth if she's so inclined. Which I hate, mind you. My kid is 3 and has no problems using a fork and spoon properly. She only acts like an invalid in the company of my in-laws who feed her like a baby and maybe right now, she likes that because she KNOWS she's not a baby anymore and that soon, there will be a baby here who will need help eating.

So tonight was my night to shine. I tried to be considerate and make something that wouldn't be too oddball to MIL. I kept it simple with chicken lettuce wraps, served with carrot sticks, rice and a bean soup blend made in our soup machine which is much tastier than her stupid xifan thing. I marinated the chicken in soy sauce, minced garlic, lemon juice and a few other odds and ends, giving it an Asian flair so it would appeal to MIL too. I'm in a good mood because Raelynn is already snatching carrot sticks off the table and munching on them while she waits for me to plate the chicken and rice. Jeremy arrives home too, and we all sit down. I serve MIL a big plate of rice but she won't eat it. She won't eat any of it. I should add that she has - surprise, surprise - brought a container of tudou bien, or potato bread, which I won't eat if she makes it. She uses too much flour in hers. At the Aeon supermarket, they make it awesomely and I'd eat it all day long from that place. She also, I later discovered, brought more wontons! But Jeremy didn't let her serve them. Raelynn whined at first and MIL got all smirky about it. And then, Raelynn, when threatened with being sent to bed without dinner for her bad attitude, changed her tune. The tables turned and MIL watched as Raelynn took pieces of chicken and wrapped them in pieces of lettuce by herself, stuffing them happily into her mouth.

Tomorrow, MIL will do the cooking again though Jeremy has forbidden her to bring wontons. Come on, MIL. Challenge your cooking skills. Do it for your grandchild so that she eats lots of different foods for her health. And you and your dippy husband blame ME when she gets sick. Genius.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Freakout, Part II!


I think I've mellowed ever so slightly about the whole giving birth thing from my last post. That's good news, right? But now I'm freaking out yet again about having to stay in the hospital. I hate hospitals. I always have and I think I always will. Today, we went for our 37 week check-up. Baby is looking good and we're still scheduled for a c-section on July 24th (sorry Auntie Jill...I know you really want the 22nd but July 24th will put me in week 39). I mildly panicked again today and the doctor calmly reassured me that everything was going to be just fine. Of course you'll be ok. Of course we will make sure the baby will be brought to you immediately afterward for breastfeeding. Yes, we have air-conditioning in all the rooms. Yes, I understand you will go insane and hack everyone to bits if we don't turn it down low enough or even turn it off...

We were told we should come in at night on July 23rd to prep for surgery. Um, no! Why must I spend an extra night in that uncomfortable bed? So I can have my surgery in the morning? Can't I have it in the afternoon? I can? Great. So I'm not coming in on the 23rd. Just get me in there, prep me and let's do this shit before I freakout (again) and change my mind. Again, I must wonder why we can't just bud children or regenerate them or grow them from spores? Urgh...

So after all of this, I began to chill out severely. I began to get excited about meeting my new baby who I'm sure I'll figure out how to get used to even with a noisy big sister hanging about.

Oh God. The noisy big sister. RAELYNN. My precious daughter!

And thus, my panicking begins again as I realize that I have to leave her with my idiotic in-laws. In Chinese hospitals, you have a family member stay with you to help you out. Nurses come in to check stats, give medicine and change IVs. My husband is expected to empty the catheter bag and help me to get out of the bed when I am cleared for walking around again. We toyed with having Raelynn stay with us but she'd get antsy. I know my girl. Someone has to watch her at home, and unfortunately, it's them.

Jeremy is most worried about the window in her bedroom where her new old bed makes it easy to access now. He's going to figure out a way to block the track so it can't be opened wide enough for even her to slip through though I have been making her afraid of windows for a while now. She's pretty good at listening when it comes to stuff like this but my in-laws are such cheap-ass creatures of habit. They think nothing of opening the windows in the heat of July and August instead of turning on the A/C.

Have you ever been forced to leave a child that you love with complete and utter morons? We did once when Raelynn was an infant but in Chinese culture, they don't take infants out of the house. I worried more that MIL would be bathing Raelynn and hear the phone ring and leave her in the tub. Because she is that dumb.

Now there's more to worry about. Windows. Incompetency in public as well as inside our own home. And let's not forget the whole mess situation. My house was a pigsty when I came back from the hospital with Raelynn. After a c-section, you can't exactly go running around scrubbing the floors. I've told my husband that if the house is not cleaned to my satisfaction when we return, he's going to be cleaning it himself. You can see here what was in my kitchen when I returned from the hospital with Raelynn.

Honestly, if the house is messy and Raelynn is ok, then I will just be happy. I don't want anything to happen to my sweet girl. I love her more than anything and if those two incompetent boobs do anything stupid to put her in jeopardy, I'll put a world of hurt on them. Please help me pray for the safety of my first born as well as a fast, easy, pain-free delivery and recovery, my health and the health of the baby. Or fly out to China real quick and watch Raelynn for me if you can. That would help too.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Freakout!


I am now 37 weeks pregnant. And as I come to accept this, I recall that my precious Raelynn decided to kick her way on out in grand splashy fashion at 38 weeks. I think about the moms I know who've just had babies of their own and now I know my turn is coming up again. Very quickly.

And I'm freaking the fuck out on this one. I hate giving birth. Is there a woman out there that enjoys this shit? Not counting Michelle Duggar I mean. I just want to get to the part where I'm holding this sweet baby. And then I want to get to the part where Jeremy, Raelynn, Baby and I are all at home learning to be a family of 4.

Oh God. Why did I want another baby? WHY?!? How am I going to get through this? How am I going to handle 2 children?!? I must be some kind of an idiot!

Ah but it's too late now and I love this thing that keeps kicking me in the ribs. And I'll be so happy to stop being pregnant soon. But the thought of delivering this child scares the shit out of me. Will I VBAC or will I stay with my scheduled c-section? I'm leaning toward the latter and then when I think about that, I realize that's 19 days away. 19 DAYS. And that's only if Dr. Wang still thinks July 24th is a good day for it. She might say we need to do this sooner (and my Auntie Jill is right now thinking, yes! Sooner! The 22nd! The 22nd! Which is her birthday, in case you were wondering...).

My husband is no help. It's not like he's not sympathetic and rubbing my sore feet and back. But he's so excited about the baby. Of course you are! You don't have to go through some horrible feat to get this kid out of my uterus and into the world! Gah! Bathtime is officially YOURS now, Honey.

So as I sit here, flipping my shit over something women have done for ages, long before epidurals and hospitals, I beg of you readers - friends, family and fans alike - please, please, PLEASE! Your best advice on how to take care of 2 children is greatly needed at this time as well as your prayers to endure it all.

The Big Girl Bed Adventure

Today was the big day! Bright and early, my husband rose to go meet two guys with a truck at his parents' house to get the crappy bed they wanted to give to Raelynn.

You want to see it, don't you? Of course you do! Because I promised a duct-taped mess. At least that's what I was expecting. But there's no tape. I KNOW! How odd, right? My friend Lynnelle was right when she surmised that my FIL hadn't done a thing with it. I don't know why in the world these 2 birdbrains took so long to deal with the bed situation that they BEGGED us to be a part of. So this is what I get, and what you will too if you marry a Chinese person. I don't regret it. I love my husband but I cannot even wait to move him and our children away from here.

So, let's check it out, shall we?
First, a look at our living room while in the midst of this bed moving. Here's the crib which is hanging out for a moment in the living room before being shoved into our bedroom. It makes this house feel even smaller than it did before. At least we can wheel it around and at least it won't be forever that this kid will sleep in a crib in our room. Dig all the toys and the bicycle strewn about as they sort out the situation in Raelynn's room. MIL of course did her very best interfering at this point, trying to put things where we didn't want them and that sort of jazz. Jeremy had my back the whole time. He urged me to just chill and as soon she left, we'd fix things properly. He did keep trying to stop her though, which was fun to watch.

Ok, take a moment to digest this if you will. MIL insisted on using this bedding. This old lady flower-vomit bedding. I'll give her points for freshly laundering it but geez, MIL! Raelynn is 3, not 300. She doesn't want this ugly flower shit all over the place. Also, let's discuss the size of the bed. It takes up the entire room. No more playing in here I guess. My living room is doomed to now be a minefield full of toys. Oh, and did you notice there's no railing to keep her from falling out? Yes, thank you for listening to me when I specified what I was looking for in a bed and completely fucking ignoring it. This was a MUCH better solution than allowing my husband and I to purchase the bed we'd found for 1,000 rmb. Or even the one another expat in the expat email group was selling for 500 rmb. Bravo.

 Sigh. I cannot allow this. Sure, I'm stuck in this stupid situation but I'm creative. I can and I will fix this crap. And that I did. Follow me to see how I managed to turned farts into sunshine.

 Now would you look at this? I've found a solution for the giant stuffed animals and made use of all the built-in shelving.

 And you'll notice that barfy flower crap is gone, gone, gone. As soon as MIL left, Jeremy helped me shove it away in the closet. Thank you, Honey!

 SO much better, right? Our only concern is the window. Not that we leave it open but his parents do. Jeremy's next task is to put a block or something in the track to ensure that when we're in the hospital having the baby, Dumb and Dumber and their penny-pinching cheapassness that would turn off the A/C at the end of July won't cause our daughter to fall out the window. In the meantime, I've been telling her the window will eat her if she gets too close to it. She seems to be terrified of it now. Either I'm a genius or I'm the worst parent ever.

Our living room was filling up fast with her larger toys like her drum set and dollhouse so I worked this play kitchen back in here and she's thrilled. I also laid out those big foam tiles so that if she does fall out of the bed thanks to the lack of a rail (which I'm still perplexed as to why no one put one on there when that's what they said they were doing but whatfuckingever) she won't get hurt.

She was still a little unsure about the big girl bed, even though we'd been talking so much about it. So I gave her butterfly stickers and let her decorate it herself (after I took this photo). She's much happier about it now, especially since the ugly flowers are gone. Here's hoping our big girl stays in her bed tonight so Jeremy and I can enjoy our evening together. If not, here's hoping she gets used to it very quickly. Wish us luck!

Friday, July 4, 2014

(Com)promises, (Com)promises


It's been 2 whole days of absolute peace and quiet in our home. No invaders from the troll world have stomped their dirty shoes all over the foyer without wiping them first on the entry mat. Or arrived bearing food I don't wish to eat. Or caused heated arguments between my husband and me. Just pure quiet and a family getting along happily.

Jeremy tried calling his parents yesterday, but they didn't take his call. Today, MIL picked up the phone and I could hear my husband's side of the conversation. It was most interesting, let me tell you, but the best was when he finished the call and filled in the blanks.

It's good stuff, and I'm hoping this is the end of messes of the sort that occurred the other day because I can't take it anymore.

MIL was apparently angry. Well, that makes 2 of us, lady. My husband though, in a surprising move, backed me up on my stance. While he agreed I could have been much nicer, he also insisted that his parents cannot come over every day. He chose Monday through Thursday for them. And I agreed. Because this whole time, I've been willing to compromise. But every time I asked nicely for it, I was ignored until I lost my mind. He also told her that she couldn't feed Raelynn the same crap every day that she does come. That part I'd heard him detailing quite well. Our daughter is a good eater who loves lots of different foods. She needs to be eating more variety. The last 2 nights, she ate everything I served her without incident.

We've had arrangements before and all was fine until MIL began getting too pushy. My husband reminded her that while yes, I am in China, I'm still an American and I have boundaries. And I need those boundaries to be respected. If they are, then I'm happy and I'm even happier to ensure that their needs are met as well. Of course I want you to know your grandchildren and spend time with them. But I don't want you in my face all the time. I need space and I need to be able to care for my family on my own. That's how I work. If you want to come play, just remember what we agreed to and I promise I will smile when you walk in and not yell (in any language). Respect works both ways, MIL, and I know that sounds crazy in your culture but in my culture, that's how it's done. I don't care if you're old. Mind my space and I will, on the allotted days, allow you to come into it, dirty shoes and all.

I Will Not Take These Things For Granted

I couldn't have gotten a better surprise today than getting my package from my folks finally delivered to my door. After all, it is the 4th of July. And this holiday notoriously makes me homesick. Not quite in the way Christmas does, but I miss my family and friends. And I miss my country, even with all its' faults. It's still my country and I can't wait until we can come home.

Raelynn stood by as I opened it up. She knew Papa and Mimi sent her some presents and she couldn't wait to see. Neither could I. Mom always does the best job at picking just the right things. Things that when I lived in the US, I totally took for granted. You probably take them for granted too, don't you?

Some of those things:
Bags of mini donuts. You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. Come to China and I dare you to try to find this, or Little Debbie's, or anything supremely delicious like this in any of the aisles. You won't. In the biggest cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen or Guangzhou, there's likely a better selection but I can tell you that these bags of donuts do not exist in this country. Mom put 4 of them in there. You rule, Mom!

American candy. Just look at this bag full of candy bars. I know my mom loves me when I look at this. Not that I doubted her but she knows the pain I feel. In China, you can walk into just about any supermarket or convenience store and the selection of chocolate candy will be the same: M&Ms (plain and sometimes peanut), Hershey bar, Snickers, and Dove chocolate bars (most of the time, only dark chocolate). In a few upscale locations, you can find some imported chocolates, like Ritter Sport. We used to buy those at Metro (until those hosers decided not to honor family memberships anymore) for 11 rmb each. Then the price rose to 16 rmb each. In Watson's and all other stores you see them in, they are about 20 - 22 rmb each now. For one bar of chocolate. Imports from other countries can be even worse. And if you dare suggest I ingest Chinese chocolate, I will hurt you. It tastes like sawdust. No offense, China, but when it comes to chocolate, you better step off. Stick to something you're good at, like dumplings. 

It wasn't all candy and donuts though. The rest of the box contained some other equally as amazing items, like cans of artichokes (rare to find here and if you do luck out, they cost an insane amount) and hearts of palm (can't find here), low sodium salt (Mom was reading up on my blog to think up that one), Stove Top Stuffing (something I haven't seen in years and cannot even wait to make), cans of Manwich (hello sloppy joe's!), cake mixes (flavors that can't be found here like red velvet - and she even sent the cream cheese frosting, also unavailable here), fruit snacks for Raelynn, Goldfish crackers (also for Raelynn), capers and much more.

For non-food items, we got some books for Raelynn and me, including this amazing coloring book with a magic paint pen that only writes inside this book. It's genius. Why didn't I think of this? Feel free to send more of these in the future because it kept Raelynn quiet as a mouse for 30 blissful minutes.


My mom also picks out the most adorable clothes for her grandchild. Unlike someone else we know (coughcoughMILcough) who picks out things like this and this. Oh God, and this. No, no, no. My mom would never be capable of sending anything as vile as those things.
 How darling is this summer dress?

 Or this one?

 I just love the embroidery on this one...it reminds me of a dress I had when I was a little girl. A dress I loved.

And this little outfit is just adorable! See what I mean? Mom +100; MIL -1,000,000.

Oh and here's a view of some of the other stuff from the package as I was trying to organize it.

Care packages like this one really help me feel a little less homesick. We've received many wonderful packages over the few years we've been here, mostly from my folks and from my brother and my sis-in-law, but also from friends. Last year, 2 of my friends kindly sent small packages of Easter candy, something you can't find over here. And a few months ago, my friend Natalie sent me an incredible package of stuff including Girl Scout Cookies, definitely not available in China. If you ever feel like sending us a package, just message me for the mailing info. The only thing better than packages full of goodies though is the people they come from. I wish my family and friends could mail themselves on over but for now, I'll cry into my candy bars.