Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Surprise From MIL

I haven't written about MIL as a main topic in a while. I'm sure some of you have been totally bummed by my lack of bitching about her. For me, it was nice to be on paid vacation for 2 months (yesssss!) and even nicer not to have that troll shuffling around my house while I'm trying to relax and enjoy my time with my baby. I did have to endure a few things with her and my FIL, like being forced to go to their ramshackle home for dinner, or attempt to graciously accept the ugliest baby shoes on the planet. Yes, my vacation was, for the most part, blissful in large part because I did not have to see my MIL every single day. Or her aftermath in my home.

Today is only the second day I have been back at work since the winter break. I didn't even have students the past 2 days. Just teacher planning and lots of meetings arguing about the stupid changes they made to the curriculum and our daily schedules. Before I'd gone back to work, Jeremy had translated some things I wanted his mother to remember when watching Raelynn. She had smiled and nodded and told him she would be sure to take care of everything. I don't expect her to scrub my house from top to bottom. But what I do expect is that she'll pick up after herself. Sure, Raelynn is more active now but I've never been so busy with her that I couldn't take a few seconds to dispose of wet wipes and tissues I'd used to wipe off toys where they belong, in the garbage can. Yup. That's just one of the things I found today when I came home from school.

I'd noted the random tissues scattered on the dining table and near the TV as I came in. Still, I mustered up a pleasant face and greeted MIL. I then beam at my daughter who is now clambering to get out of the playpen to see me. I'll never know if she was just so excited to see me or if she wanted to get away from Grandma. Perhaps a little of both. Anyway, I hurry to hang up my coat and put up my things so I can wash my hands and rescue my darling daughter. That's when I discover our bathroom sink is clogged. I must tell you that I was actually the last one to leave this morning. Jeremy and MIL had to take Raelynn to get her final vaccination for the year. It was rather strange being all alone in the house. Without the baby. Surreal! When I'd used the sink before I left for work, the water went down the drain just fine. My husband went off to work right from taking Raelynn. He didn't come back upstairs. The culprit? MIL of course! She must have put tea leaves down there again. Moron.

While drying my hands on the towel, I then noticed that some bibs she'd placed atop the washing machine weren't there anymore. Oh. Noooooooo. No. She couldn't have. After I had Jeremy specifically tell her. I ran and looked about our home. They weren't hanging to dry inside. Or outside. She hand-washed them, which I asked her not to do because she doesn't use the laundry detergent (she uses the hand soap instead, which, for a while, she had brought this weird yellow soap that smells like pee and I would try to hide it from her but she'd keep finding it so I threw it away and she's never tried to bring it back since) and guess where she fucking put them? It took me a while to locate them too. She put them back in Raelynn's room on the shelf ON TOP OF 10 DRY BIBS! Which meant that now, these other 10 bibs were wet and smelled funny from sitting there wet like that all day while I was at work. Fucking MORON!

But the coup de gras was in the kitchen. Ah, just like old times, no? Come and see!
First up, we have this ominous sign of kitchen nightmares to come with a bowl and a plate on top. To the untrained eye, you'd think someone was just a lazy bastard when it came to putting the dishes on the drying rack you see there. Oh but no. This is such an MIL thing to do. She will cook something and then, to "store" it, she will put it in a bowl and top it with a plate. I should tell you we have plastic containers and she KNOWS it. She also knows where they are in our kitchen. But yet, I find this.

So, what is in the bowl? Nothing I want to eat. How about you?
Some crappy noodle dish. It doesn't look very appetizing either. It's got egg in it too. Oh yes, let's eat something that contains egg after it's been sitting out for hours. It is cold outside and our kitchen, the only room with no radiator, is the coldest in the house. But it is not THAT cold in there. Who wants diarrhea? Oh, me! Me! ME! NOT!

This is the window sill of our kitchen. This is our window sill with food sitting out on top of it. It might help to know that to the right of this, not shown in this photo, there is a very large double-door refrigerator with plenty of space in it. So, why the fuck is this shit sitting out? And out here no less? In the small space between this window sill and the refrigerator, we have a few things tucked away, like an extra baby bath tub (also not pictured in this photo). Even without stuff there, it's not a place you want to squeeze into. But for whatever reason, MIL, who is not exactly fat but certainly not thin either, is obviously spending her time lurking about in this crevice, stashing Chinese meat patties and actually using one of our storage containers to save some likely barfy-tasting creation she's made in my absence. The irony of her actually using one of our many plastic containers on this shit and not the noodle mess in the bowl is not lost on me either, incidentally.

In this photo, you can see what I mean regarding the placement of the food on the ledge right next to a massive refrigerator. I seriously have to wonder what goes through this woman's head. Tumbleweeds? Dust? Two monkeys picking fleas off each other? WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER?!? Why is this such a difficult concept for her to grasp? I know, I know. The poor woman had no choice about her education. I do feel for her. But she has 2 ears. She can listen, right? My husband speaks to her in Chinese. She says she understands him. But does she? The children I teach listen better than she does. I guarantee I wouldn't have to tell them 100 times to put food in a refrigerator. Hmmm...maybe the old bat just needs to repeat kindergarten. As long as it's not in MY class.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mombie The Zombie

Being a huge Scooby Doo fan, I just HAD TO use this picture I found on Picasa Web Albums when I did a search for "zombie."

I adore just about everything there is to adore about being a mommy. Sure, it's not for everyone, but for me, it is an absolute blessing. Except for one thing. The extensive lack of sleep. For those not in the know, when you first have a baby, Mommy and Daddy don't really sleep. Well, Daddy gets more sleep than Mommy. She gives him the "You MOTHERFUCKER" side-eye while he snores and drools into the pillows as she feeds a cute but hungry baby for the better part of an hour every 2 hours. But at some point, it evens out. Your baby begins to sleep for longer stretches and doesn't take as long to eat. I think a balance comes about somehow with your body adjusting to less sleep meeting in the middle with a baby that will permit you longer spurts of sleep.

I've mentioned before that Raelynn is quite a good baby. I'm not just saying that because she's mine. She is mostly easy to deal with. But she does go through spells of not sleeping properly. It's usually a day or two at a time when it happens. And when it does, I become my sleep deprived alter-ego, Mombie the Zombie.

Mombie the Zombie moans at the first signs of light peeping through the curtains, knowing then that there is no chance whatsoever to go back to sleep. This is of course always the time when, if Raelynn has been fussy all night, she will just fall right asleep. But for me, this is the time I have to get up for work. Vacation was lovely for Mombie the Zombie because she COULD actually go back to sleep or at least squeeze in a small nap later. When the semester is in full swing, I am operating in peak zombie mode.

Mombie the Zombie relies heavily on coffee and lots of it to jolt herself into a state of normalcy. It helps her to function, for the most part, like a respectable human being. But inside, she feels anything but human. In her mind, where witty banter and important facts are stored, there now is a resounding whooshing sound like wind passing between her ears, making it impossible for her to say anything more than "um, hmmm, uh, mmmm."

When I'm in my regular non-zombified state, I have a good memory. Ok, so I don't remember EVERYTHING from my crazy past for those of you with those "Hey, remember when we all went to that house party and the guy you liked was hitting on some ugly girl so you took his shoes and put them in the freezer" stories.* I'm talking about where I put my keys, the name of the person I just shook hands with, things I have to buy at the store and those sorts of things. In zombie-mode, I suddenly look point blank at someone I know and say, "um, hmmm, uh, mmmm." And I put my keys in absurd places and have to spend all day looking for them. Even in college when I'd stumble back to my dorm room in what could only politely be called a drunken stupor, I'd ALWAYS manage to find my keys in my pigsty of a room the next morning when I had no recollection as to HOW I'd gotten back to my room.

Yes, Mombie the Zombie does some strange things but just as you get used to her being around, a certain cute but grouchy (and likely teething) baby goes to sleep. And Mombie the Zombie goes back into the netherworld until Jennifer summons her presence again when sleep eludes her yet again.

*Disclaimer: I may or may not have shoved someone's sandals into the freezer once upon a time. I plead the fifth. Hey, don't judge me, monkey.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

You Can't Stop It

I've chosen this photo of Raelynn for this post because, well 1) she's just too adorable and 2) she is a force to be reckoned with as she crawls across our bed at break-neck speed. This photo was taken as she lunged toward the camera, likely in an attempt to grab it and then try to eat it. Oh Raelynn!

"You can't stop it."

That's what Jeremy said to me earlier as I sobbed into his shoulder. And suddenly I saw the light through my tears. See, all week, I have been pushing the inevitable out of my mind. Just trying to focus on spending the last of my vacation with my daughter. And trying not to think of my bumbling MIL coming on Tuesday morning to care for Raelynn while I'm out. Especially that.

Jeremy's right though. I can't stop time. I wouldn't want to either. I'd miss so much if I did. Even difficult moments like this one. Which has been even more trying since Raelynn seems to be teething right now. As great as it has been to be home with her, it's time to go back to school. The sooner I do, the sooner I'll be on summer vacation. Sure, I absolutely despise summer here since no one turns on the air conditioning (and if they do, they put it on like 26 degrees Celcius so it's still hot as all hell indoors) but Raelynn will be big enough to take to the beach. She can wear her adorable little swim suit that my folks got her. Plus, she can play with her beach toys. Which we actually played with in her playpen the other day. I needed something new to distract her. We'd been playing for a while. I'd read to her (3 books in a row) and the instant I try to leave the room to - heaven forbid - use the bathroom, she totally has a spaz. So, I tossed the bucket o'beach toys on in there with her and watched with glee as she babbled to herself while banging the plastic shovel against the bucket.

Even before summer hits, we've got Raelynn's first birthday. I still can't even believe I had a baby. Me. ME! That crazy girl that once was has channeled her inner crazy into positive avenues. And now I'm a mom. Amazing. It's hard to believe that she's almost one too. It really has all gone by so fast. I remember the day she was born, holding her for the first time, then wearily reaching into the little crib they'd wheeled up next to my hospital bed and her just grabbing my finger and holding it while staring at me. And now that tiny little person has grown quite big, loves to stand up, pulls our hair, squeals with delight, has the best laugh and does about a zillion other things that have us solidly smitten with her.

True, I can't stop it. Any of it. I can only roll with it. And look on the bright side of it. What, you might ask, is the bright side of leaving your child with a dusty old woman who you can't at all stand? Oh, just that MIL will likely be driven crazy trying to keep up with her. Which, on the brightest side of all, is why we're looking for other options so we don't have to leave her with the troll anymore. Roll baby, roll!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Back To Life, Back To Reality

Sooner or later, I knew it would happen. I knew my splendid 2 months of vacation would have to come to an end. Teacher orientation begins next week and thus, my days of leisure will become a distant memory.

I've had such a wonderful time while on winter break. We went to Beijing. My brother and his girlfriend came to visit and were accosted by costumed castaways. We went shopping. We spent time with friends. I read a few books, which is a big deal since I only get to read a few pages at night before bed (if I'm lucky). But most important of all, I got to spend all my time with Raelynn.

I am the luckiest person in the world to get to see this face every day. 

I must tell you that I have savored every second with my precious daughter. Not having to rush off to work each day was priceless. I could stay and play with her. I'd read to her and play with her in her playpen. One of my favorite things is when she falls asleep eating and I can just snuggle up next to her for a nap. I miss naps. But naps with my baby are something I cherish all the more. I can't take a nap at school. Well, my friend Dan does and how he sleeps over the shrieks of kindergarteners is beyond me. But I personally can't fall asleep there. When I'm not in the middle of class, I aim to be as busy as I can so I don't cry about being apart from Raelynn.

I still have one week left and I'm trying not to be pessimistic about it. After all, teaching IS good for me. I do need to get out of the house on my own because I'm not JenniferandRaelynn. I'm Jennifer. And she's Raelynn. The money is good too. We need it. Plus, if I sit and wallow in how sad I feel about going back to work, I will miss out on this last week of vacation. And I don't want to do that. All I have to do is hold on until summer. We get a break then too. I'll just have to push thoughts of that troll leaving her post under the bridge to come watch my daughter and teach her absolutely nothing while making a pigsty out of my home out of my head and look to the future. The bigger picture.

I know I shouldn't get so maudlin over such things. A decade ago, I worked for an evil empire of an ad agency. It was a good experience but I'll be damned if they ever let me cash in my vacation days ever. I got to take some but not even close to all I'd earned. And they refused to compensate me on them too. It was the worst catch 22 ever. Because they "needed" me, I was lucky if I got to escape that inferno for 2 weeks. Some people I know are still slaving away there (sorry guys) and others have moved on like me. But NO ONE from either category can claim to have the kind of vacation time (PAID!) that I get to have now. The price? Enduring some whiny kindergarteners for a few hours a day. That's a relatively small price to pay if you ask me.

Now stuck in my head is that 90s song from Soul II Soul, "Back to Life." Remember that? Because if you're going back to work after a long vacation and your angel of a baby will likely make the following faces...

(Personally, I think she's crying because her daddy is wearing a Florida Gators t-shirt but that's just my opinion.)

...then you should at least have a cool soundtrack. Hang in there, Raelynn. Mommy's planning you a special 1st birthday party and before you know it, I'll be on vacation again. Back to life, back to reality I go.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And My Husband's New Name Is...

Your first clue is this song:
At home, drawin' pictures 
Of mountain tops
With him on top
Lemon yellow sun
Arms raised in a V
Dead lay in pools of maroon below.

If you know which song this is, then you know what the-husband-formerly-known-as-Lane has decided to choose as his new English name. And if you lived in a hole somewhere and have no fucking clue whatsoever, you have no idea who sang the song I'm referring to or what the title to it is for that matter. Plus, you are likely also unaware that my husband recently declared he didn't want to be called "Lane" anymore.

We received quite a few suggestions. Thank you to everyone for your emails and comments. We had some rather amusing ones and my friend Kim Kluge from college and I discussed the possibility of "Foot" being used, which would actually have been fitting since my husband did play soccer back in college. He'd chosen not to go pro despite his capabilities and opted to go to graduate school for his masters degree.

So for the dense people out there who are still scratching their heads as to what name he chose, it is without further ado that I present to you...

I kind of like it, though to be honest, I keep accidentally calling him "Lane" now. I knew I should have never even indulged him an English name. I should have just stuck to calling him Xiaolong or my other endearing names for him. He chose it himself too and he's quite proud of this. At least he can pronounce it correctly. I would have been mortified if he chose "Dade." Oh well. Too late to change it now. That is, unless he suddenly sits up in bed one day in the future and tells me he really wants to change his English name again.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Changing Lanes

The other night, as my husband and I were reading in bed, he turns to me and says suddenly, "I don't want to be Lane anymore."
"Oh, no?" I ask. "What English name would you rather have then?"

God, how I love this man. I explained to him that Aileen was a woman's name, although now as I type this I can't help but wonder if he was trying to pronounce "Alan." Anyway, he's now on the hunt for a new English name. So no more Lane. I asked him why he didn't want to be Lane anymore. After all, he had decided to use that name in the first place.

"It sounds too much like this," he says while we're out to lunch and gestures at some lamb chops. "Lamb. It's just 'Lane' and that's it. One sound. It makes me think of a 'pabo.'" I think I've mentioned countless times in this blog that 'pabo' is Korean for 'stupid.' We're always using this word in our daily conversations, no matter which language we're speaking in. Most of what we say is randomly peppered with pabos.

Anyway, it's his choice if he prefers to change it of course. I liked Lane. I had gotten used to calling him that. But if he'll be happier with a different name, then I must help him. We looked up a few websites that had baby names. He'd read down the list.
"Dade," he muses, and I giggle. For one, he's pronounced it like "Dad" and for another, it is the county I am from back in America.
"Um, no. Let's try something else," I say kindly, "You said you didn't want one syllable anymore anyway, right?"

And on and on we look. From Andrew to Dalget and beyond. I think he might choose a name that begins with "J" so we can match. How cute is that? I'd love it. So, what will the husband formerly known as Lane choose to be called? Well, we will just have to wait and see. Of course, we might consider any suggestions from my readers who leave comments (here or on Facebook), or even via email.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Baby Fashion Victim

Raelynn is usually a very good baby. We're very lucky. But even the best babies can be naughty at times. Take last night for example. She was great at the start of the night. Got her to bed easily in her own room. Even when she woke up to eat, no big deal. Somewhere around 3am though, Raelynn decided she wanted to play, despite being visibly sleepy. I tried EVERYTHING in my bag of tricks. I tried rocking her to sleep in her room. I tried patting her while she was in her crib. Singing her songs. Begging her to go to sleep. Nothing. I moved her to our room along with her chair so I could at least rock her from the comforts of bed. This was even worse. I then moved her into bed with us but all she wanted to do was kick us and crawl all over us. Oh, and stand on our heads while she groped at our headboard, which she finds strangely fascinating.

In any event, I didn't sleep well AT ALL last night. Even with my husband's attempts at trying to get Raelynn to sleep. So it was really very cool of him to, at a reasonable time of morning, take her away from headbutting me in the center of my back where I am experiencing shooting pains thanks to pulling it when I'd picked her up in the middle of the night, and put her in her playpen so I could rest a little longer.

During this time, he thought he'd be even more helpful by also dressing her. Would you like to see what Lane put our daughter in?
Dear Lord! What kind of fucking outfit IS this anyway? It looks like something my MIL would have put on herself, let alone how she would dress Raelynn if she had the chance. Incidentally, I love the face she's making here, don't you? She just KNOWS this ensemble is so poorly put together. Let's break it down, shall we? Okay, even though it is quite warm inside our house with the radiators going, Lane freaks out if Raelynn doesn't have long sleeves on. So I get the little hoodie. She should wear this piece as much as possible because she's starting to outgrow it. It goes with most things anyway. But this coupled with the shirt AND the pants! Ack! NO NO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
The shirt actually has a matching pair of pants. He KNOWS this because he picked that outfit to buy her when we were in Korea last summer. I wasn't keen on it but I'd shot down 100 other things he wanted to buy her and I felt this one was the least ghastly. Together with the matching pants, it's really cute. But he put it on with these pink pants. I don't know if you can see it, but these pink pants happen to have a poop stain on them. Someone (MIL or quite possibly my own husband) didn't rinse and soak them fast enough when it had happened and the stain set. Because it is so blisteringly cold outside, I reserve these pants now only for going underneath cute, non-poopstained pants when we leave the house. He knows this too. For the final touch of fugly, he has tucked the shirt into the pants. Poor Raelynn! But don't worry...Mommy's first order of business upon rubbing her eyes and seeing a badly dressed sulking baby being placed next to her was to go change said baby into something much more fashionable.

Dear Asia, Stop Ruining Pizza!

Tonight, my already sweet husband did something extra sweet. He ordered me a pizza from Pizza Hut. Yes, we have those here though typically, the service is horrendous. The menu offers 1,000 other things too, some of them rather odd to an American like me, though the pizza is as it should be. You'll find crazy pizza offerings like those with shrimp heads and fish. But they do have a Hawaiian pizza and a plain cheese pizza.

Lane told me I'd been so good with my exercising and eating healthy. I guess he felt badly that the other night, he'd had food poisoning and on top of caring for him (which was on top of my already frazzling taking care of Raelynn duties), I had to forgo eating anything remotely delicious. In any event, despite my pleadings, he ordered a pizza for me. I had wanted a simple cheese pizza. But Lane broke some bad news to me. Not only would they not deliver to us, but they also would not make a plain cheese pizza.

Here's where things get cracked out: they tell him they're changing the menu and they no longer offer a plain cheese pizza. And here's where it gets insane: they tell him they can do bacon and cheese. CAN'T YOU JUST LEAVE THE FUCKING BACON OFF? I mean COME ON! That's less work for them, right? Is it THAT confusing to just put cheese on the pizza and shove it in the fucking oven?

Then, something else occurs to me. Just like in Korea, here in China, they will throw corn on top of a pizza. CORN! I remember ordering a cheese pizza while in Korea and it coming back with corn on top. I wanted to kill them. I have nothing against corn, mind you. I just wanted a simple, plain cheese pizza. NOTHING ELSE. But Asians everywhere are determined to ruin pizza. I ask Lane if he's sure it's just bacon and cheese on the pizza. He says it is.

In no way do I blame my husband for any of this. He did something so kind and selfless. He dashed out into the cold night, caught the number 12 bus to the Pizza Hut closest to us and 30 minutes later, he was back, pizza in hand. Yay! Pizza! Right?
Wrong. Does this look like bacon and cheese to you? No? Me neither. Let's start with this so-called bacon. This is NOT bacon. It is some horrid sausage thing. Now, I love sausage. On pizza in America! I can not even stand sausage from Korea or China. It's gross. They also, for whatever demented reason, have seen fit to include green bell peppers, which, if my brother were eating this, would have caused a gastrointestinal upset for sure. Peppers don't sit very well with me either. I love the taste, they just don't get along well with my internal organs as I'm aging. And's my nemesis...CORN!

FUCKING CORN! Okay, look. I totally get it. You guys like weird shit on your pizza. Good for you. But please don't call it "Western-style" if you are going to stick nasty not-even-hotdog-quality-sausage on a pizza and call it bacon AND THEN sprinkle it with corn. It's not Western-style. It's Asian-style pretending to be Western-style. Let's not sugarcoat it. Or in this case, corn-coat it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

TV Producers Grasp At Strands With Hair Show

This evening, Lane and I sat down to dinner with the TV on. In typical male behavior observed all across the globe, my husband clutched the remote control with his death grip while clicking and cruising through the channels for something to watch. He usually sticks it on soccer or changes it from the one thing I've found that I want to watch but this time, when he came upon one channel, he froze. And so did I. Our mouths gaping, we stared in amazement at the show on television.

It was called Hair Battle Spectacular. Has anyone seen this thing? Is this something everyone back home in the states is fully aware of? If you're just cluing into this like me, you can read the full description at the Oxygen website here. Basically, thanks to the annoying pop cultural icons of Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga who constantly try to gag us with their bizarre styling, this show pits stylist against stylist in an attempt to outdo each other with the most insane hairstyle. It's so demented. It's so horrible. It's so riveting that neither of us chewed for a good 10 minutes. We just sat there staring, mouths gaping open. It's sheer lunacy, pardon the pun.

Finally, I broke the silence. "I am so ashamed for my country right now," I tell Lane. And truly, I am. Not that all programming was intellectually stimulating before I left the country. I'll admit I do love a good competition show. I adore Hell's Kitchen. Lane loves Masterchef. Cake Boss has us both glued to the tube. But Hair Battle Spectacular is an all-time low. It is just beyond terrible. Yet we couldn't turn away. The episode we saw had the stylists designing wedding cakes out of hair that their models would wear upon their head. Two would face off at a time and the judges would make unoriginally bitchy comments to the contestants about their designs. Here is a shot of two contestants facing off with their models. This is not from the one we viewed this evening.

Like holy what the fuck Batman, right? I mean, wow. It's epically over-the-top, bats in the belfry, fries short of a Happy Meal infuckingsane. Have they all just run out of ideas for television shows over there? Was this made as a joke? Has everyone gone crazy since I left? I'm not quite sure what to make of this. What I do know is that I am seriously embarrassed to say I come from America after seeing this crap. And I thought I was embarrassed when Jersey Shore and those Kardashians popped up. This is the icing on the cake! Then again, the Canadians came up with curling so I guess that is decidedly MUCH worse.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Beggars Can't Be Choosers

Here in China, this sheep cartoon is quite popular. It's called 喜羊羊与灰太狼 which says Xǐ Yáng Yáng Yǔ Huī Tài Láng. That translates to Happy Lamb and Grey Wolf, or officially on merchandise, Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf. You see this shit everywhere. And I do mean everywhere.

So naturally, I was not at all surprised when my brother and his girlfriend, Kimmy, were visiting us a couple weeks ago, we spotted someone dressed up as a budget-version of this as we walked through the famed May 4th Square. Phillip and I immediately began joking with each other, reverting to our old childhood game of this-is-you-that's-you. As we got closer, the sheep character approached us and got all huggy and mugged it up for pictures. Kimmy, being an outstanding photographer, snapped a few of them and then we waved goodbye. Only budget-sheep-costumed person wasn't budging. She was raising her voice angrily in Chinese. Not missing a beat, my husband suddenly feigns that he isn't Chinese and just starts speaking to her in English. She's not thrilled about this and finally, Lane begins yelling back at her in Chinese. Meanwhile, my brother is on high alert as the other character had bumped him so he's checking his pockets to make sure all his belongings are still intact. I'm holding the baby but I'm wanting to seriously push this crazy lady down and kick her ribs in. The woman in the sheep costume was now demanding we pay her 10 yuan a person per picture. Kimmy had already deleted them from her camera and had even shown the woman as she did so. Two men are also standing there this whole time and at first, we thought they might be in on it but it turns out the budget beggars had weaseled them too. Lane told her he'd only give her 10 yuan total to shut her up. I glare at the two men and yell, "Is everyone in this fucking country a fucking crook?" Not that America is without its' faults but there are some really lecherous people here. Lane throws 10 yuan to the ground, a huge sign of disrespect in his culture, and we leave.

My brother and I then began discussing how annoying it is to encounter people like this who have no real job and try to earn money by cheating people out of theirs. Just like those countless "cabbies" at the airports who offer to take you to your hotel or wherever you're going for an astronomical fee. They mob you in some places as you're busy carting your luggage around. It's tempting, especially being in a different country. But don't fall for it. Keep walking and outside, perhaps with a little guidance from a legitimate staff member at the airport, you will find a taxi stand where you wait your turn and you get a real taxi, one that won't rip you off.

Phillip also told me about a guy on Hollywood Boulevard (which, being that we grew up in South Florida, I immediately thought of the Hollywood Boulevard there, but he was talking about California) who dresses up as Superman, will take photos with you and then demand to be paid for taking a photo with you or will chase you down the street if you don't. Why can't these people simply state up front that they charge a fee for their services? Perhaps they're afraid no one would take a picture with them. But if they were honest, maybe they'd find more people would give them money out of sympathy. Hell, if they were honest, they wouldn't be standing out in the cold trying to con everyone that walks by.

Despite the encounter with these cartoon crooks, our visit with Phillip and Kimmy was wonderful. We were so happy to have them here. Our only complaint was that time went far too quickly and before we knew it, they were both back in Singapore. It was great to watch them bond with Raelynn and to share Chinese New Year with them. Now I'll end this post on a happy note, with some photos of Phillip and Raelynn, who FINALLY stopped crying when she was around him. Insert obvious joke about my brother: perhaps she finally got used to how much he smells. Bwahahaha! Kimmy (who does not smell) loves taking photos but seldom likes being the subject of them, despite how stunning she is. I know she reads my blog regularly (thank you!) so if you don't mind me using a photo of you too, just let me know (you can even pick which one) and I will update this post to include it.
Raelynn loved playing with the remote control in her Uncle Phillip's hotel room. 
Phillip making one of his typically goofy faces at his niece who now finds him funny instead of scary.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pink Is The New Blue

When you see pink, what do you think of? What about blue? If you said "girls" for pink and "boys" for blue, you're thinking like the majority. Me too. But how did these colors come to be so gender specific anyway? Should it matter what colors our babies wear? Maybe it shouldn't, but it does. I know I will probably catch hell for what I'm about to say, but so be it. Baby boys should not wear pink. There, I said it.

Now I'm not saying a grown man can't choose to dress himself in a lovely light pink dress shirt under his suit. I'm not even saying a little boy can't go pick out a pink shirt to wear when his mom takes him shopping. Babies and beauty are in the eyes of the beholder and for me, Raelynn's got to dress like a little lady. If I chose to dress her in blue, that's my prerogative as well. But what if someone, like my MIL for example, bought blue things for her? Or clothes with cars and trucks on them? Clothes that just scream boy?

Fortunately for me, this is not a problem I ran into with my MIL. Sure, we had other fashion-related problems with her but not like this. One of my many pregnant friends is getting ready for the arrival of her son. And like me, she's married to a Chinese man. But unlike me, she mostly likes her MIL. Though that may change as her hormones begin to go crazy on her, coupled with her MIL buying questionable clothing items for this bouncing baby boy.

She was kind enough to share these with me, so let's have a look...

We've got a track suit. IN PINK. Did I mention she's having a boy? Did I mention her MIL KNOWS she is having a boy too? Ok, well regardless of the gender, this is one fugly pink track suit. Take a closer look at the artwork adorning this ensemble:

It says "small spr Rabbit" on it, which is delightfully stupid in an Engrish sort of way but no one I know wants that kind of shit on their child. Then there's a lame pink rabbit, and a pink car with what looks like a giraffe and another rabbit, this one blue. The car is emitting little hearts instead of noxious fumes. Or perhaps it's symbolic of love being a poisonous gas of sorts. Who knew that Chinese baby clothes were so deep and meaningful?

My MIL certainly chose some things that were about this ugly, but there was no mistaking that she clearly chose clothes for a girl. She picked out a few things that had similar ties on the front. Maybe it's a Chinese MIL thing. I don't know. What I DO know is that trying to tie a shirt, dress, pants or whathaveyou onto a squirming and possibly crying infant is maddening and is not something I recommend attempting unless you truly want to lose your sanity. 

But if you really want to lose your mind, come to a country where people think these split-crotch pants are acceptable attire. Here is a closer look of the pants for the pink track suit...
What cracks me up, pardon the pun, is that Chinese people (mostly the women) will nag and pester you about how your child isn't bundled up enough for the weather. Even if your child is dressed in a parka and it's hot outside. They will come from out of nowhere to butt in (again, pardon the pun) and tell you that you should be more careful to dress your kid more warmly. AND YET THEY PUT PANTS LIKE THIS ON THEIR KIDS WITH NO DIAPERS ON UNDERNEATH. So I'm having a hard time understanding this one, as are my other friends here, especially the one who now is scratching her head about this fucking track suit and wondering what the fuck she should do with it. I'm quite sure the thought of strangling her MIL came to mind as a use for this crap. But hopefully, she will be like me and create her very own vortex for ugly clothes and hide this barfy thing where her MIL will never find it or even better, will completely forget about it after a spell. Good luck, girl.

And here's another item given to my friend by her MIL:
It's a giant Hello Kitty "blanket." I use the term "blanket" loosely as it is made from terry cloth, just like a towel, though here, this kind of material is rather rough, like the sort you'd find at a cheap motel. So it's really a giant Hello Kitty towel. Made from inferior cottons and dyed with toxic chemicals. But I've noticed that in China, people will use towels as blankets which bothers the hell out of me. I caught MIL using our towels as blankets for Raelynn when I came home from work one day. She knows where the blankets are but yet would dig for this nasty-looking giant towel I'd use to throw down on the sand at the beach. So, into the vortex that thing went and it won't come out again until summer when we go to the beach again. But that's neither here nor there. Using a towel as a blanket totally makes me think back on the kind of days where you'd get too shitfaced with your friends, pass out cold on the bathroom floor and someone would toss a towel over you to help keep you warm while you'd drool onto the tiles. Yeah. Thank GOD those days are over.

But back to this Hello Kitty hell. This sort of crap is why Chinese MILs will quickly get on your nerves. I know this feeling all too well. It's the one where you feel like someone else is trying to forcibly exert their taste upon you. It would be like having my MIL come in and redecorate our home with things she thinks are tasteful. And thankfully, the opposite of that happened here in regards to home furnishings. I empathize completely because nothing is more annoying than having someone, especially someone who you experience a massive cultural and generational gap with, do this to you. It's hard enough having a baby. Add to it being a stranger in a strange land. And add to all that a bunch of ugly or stupid items that someone expects you to use on your child. You don't want to be rude, yet it's YOUR child and you want that child to be put in clothing that is easy to put on and take off, not to mention that suits your tastes. Raelynn could fully decide never to wear pink again and beg me to dress her like a boy, like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's little Shiloh. I sure hope not, but as long as it is what she wants. But for now, she wears what Lane and I want to see her in and that is the way it goes. It all starts with simple shit like clothes and blankets and soon, snowballs into a full-on power struggle where the MIL attempts to invade every aspect and every decision about the baby's life. Perhaps we should have created a MIL vortex instead of one for appalling apparel, but I doubt there is a blackhole out there large enough for this sort of disposal. Until then we will smile, say thank you and abruptly shove things like this into an alternate universe.