Monday, April 29, 2013

A Rude Awakening

Today is Monday. On most Mondays, you can find me wrangling poorly-behaved Korean kindergarteners for cash. But on this Monday, school is closed. It's closed tomorrow and Wednesday too. Thank you, Chinese Labor Holiday!

Every student and teacher has off right now. I wish every weekend could be 5 days long! They should be, I'll say that much. Anyway, Jeremy headed out the door just before 7am to go play soccer. Later on, for lunch, we'd be meeting up with some of those same soccer chums of his to enjoy lots of food and beer while our kids happily played. But as the clock hit 7am, I snuck back under the covers, hoping to get a little more sleep. Raelynn was blissfully occupied with cartoons and some breakfast breads. It was perfect!

Until I heard the tinny ding dong of our doorbell. I didn't need to look through the peephole to know just what was waiting for me in our dusty hallway, disheveled and mismatched as ever...MIL.
(I know, I know. I've used this photo of MIL a thousand times on here but I'm too lazy right now to go looking for more recent ones on my computer. Plus, her trotting out of our kitchen with dumplings is very fitting.)

Why is she here? I'm gagging to know this, given that the entire country is on a holiday this week, which is common knowledge among all Chinese people. I'm quite sure my husband has told her I wouldn't be at work either, hasn't he? He better have, I think to myself, plotting which part of him I'll kick repeatedly if this is his fault.

Gingerly, I open the door and summon my most polite smile. She sees me in my pajamas and then she says, almost rhetorically, in her hillbilly voice, how I'm not at work today. Well, duh. She tells me Jeremy didn't tell her. I tell her he's not here...he's off kicking a soccer ball, and I'm all the while thinking of kicking some other balls. Simultaneously, Raelynn has heard her grandma and pokes between my legs to say hi. "Hi Gramma!" she says, sweetly, and we smile at her. MIL gestures at a bag of vegetables and things, which probably consist of some improperly refrigerated meat, and says she'll come cook us something. Despite being insanely annoyed, I keep up my polite demeanor and thank her but refuse, explaining that we would be going to a friend's house for lunch and her cooking would be unnecessary today. She nods and clucks that she understands. I must have done a good job for she doesn't look hurt or offended in the slightest, and she bids us goodbye. And she leaves! WOOHOO!

When Jeremy came home, I told him all about it. He saved himself by telling me he had in fact told her I didn't have to work until Thursday this week. He told her Friday night when we'd gone to their house for dinner. See, 2 weeks ago, we had to have dinner at their house to celebrate Raelynn's birthday, since they weren't allowed to go to her party. And this past Friday, my husband insisted we go because of the Chinese holiday. Naturally, I wasn't happy about going 2 weeks in a row, but I used it as an opportunity to negotiate for things I wanted. Marriage is all about compromise, folks. Incidentally, I should also mention that I sincerely suspect, even though my husband denies it, that MIL has been taking cooking classes. Something is up with her. Because those 2 dinners did not suck. At all. Seriously. I know. I'm as shocked as you are, believe me.

In any event, now I'm wondering why MIL came over today. Did she simply forget what her son told her about my not having to work due to the holiday? How could she forget that if the whole country is on a break? On one hand, I think maybe she was trying to be pushy and steal from my time with Raelynn but if that were the case, she would have forced herself into our home. She's a pushy old troll and she could have easily pulled her "but I'm a bossy old cow and I'm making you dumplings whether you want me to or not" routine again. But she didn't. She just took her bag and left without incident. Is she really going senile now? Oh dear Lord are we in for it!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Meet Me In The Robby: An Engrish Story

This photo showcases part of our school lobby during last year's English Village. Though we should totally change it to "Engrish" Village after this!

Ah, a 5-day weekend! How fabulous! It's so nice to have extra days to relax and do fun stuff. And to write in the blog while my toddler takes a nap. Perfect! It's nice to just sit on my ass right now, eating Twizzlers (thank you, Genesis, for the American treats) and not having to do any work. I spent my morning scrubbing our home and now, I deserve this rest.

This week, we had our Science Day, which kept us busy. Work was really pleasant for the last 2 weeks because my most horribly-behaved student had gone to Korea. The other children were so much better without him there instigating 1,000 problems a day. But halfway through the week, the little monster returned, complete with a new stupid haircut that makes him look like an evil Peter Pan. We've been finishing our progress reports and getting ready for our Children's Day activity, which will take place next Friday, May 3rd.

For this day, we'll have games, face painting and fun stuff for the kids. My only consolation for this is that in a couple more weeks, it will be Teacher's Day and I have 20 students, all of whom will bring me extremely nice gifts. Last year, I got Dior lipstick, 2 different kinds of perfumes (one of them Channel!), fancy coffee mugs, and all sorts of expensive things. I felt appreciated (and pampered!). So this will be my motivation to smile even through the ear-splitting shrieks of the brightest group of kids I've had to date - but also, the noisiest and worst behaved of all.

Anyway, we had to come up with 4 games for the children to play. That was easy. Christina, my Korean teacher and the Korean director of kindergarten, is so great to work with. Unlike Lesley who made millions of changes and turned everything into a dog and pony show, Christina is easy-going and fun to work with. Within 10 minutes, we'd decided what we'd all do and what each of our roles would be.

Christina worked up an activity plan, which details the happenings of the day: what games we'll play, what time we'll play them and where we will play them, for example. Some of it was in Korean, which although I can read that, I ignored. The morning activity is something the Korean teachers are doing and doesn't concern me, thankfully. My eyes float down to the bottom of the page for the afternoon game activities. And suddenly, they stop abruptly on the following line:
Game 3:
What: Ice cream cone relay
Who: Jennifer
Where: Robby

Now, all this took place within nanoseconds in my brain as I thought to myself, "Robby? Who's Robby? We don't have a Robby."

And suddenly, it dawned on me. Christina meant "Lobby."
And with that I burst into laughter so hard, I could barely breathe. I felt so bad for laughing because I didn't want her to be embarrassed, but I seriously couldn't help it. Poor Christina. She laughed too though I could tell she felt ashamed by it. There's no shame in such perfect Engrish mistakes like that though. It could have been worse. At least she didn't misuse the word "ejaculation."

The Great Wall Of Qingdao

For those of you who have never been to China, the Great Wall is actually just outside of Beijing. That's north of here, about an hour by plane. We went last January, which you can read all about here. In Qingdao, you might be surprised to find that we have a wall of our own. A much less captivating and remarkable wall, to be sure, but we have one that we drive past every day on the way to work. It always seems that everyone wants to climb it. Or down it, to be more specific, to the sidewalk below. Let's have a look:

 You'll notice some large apartment buildings at the top. If you live there and you don't have a car, you need to take the bus. There's a stop right along this road. But there's no exit from the apartment complex to this road. The exit takes you to the other road that completes the corner this complex sits on. So for people who want to take the bus and are too damn lazy (or late) to be bothered with walking to the exit and walking around the corner, they just scale down this wall. Yes, really.

Regrettably, I have been trying for a few weeks to snap a photo of someone in action climbing down the wall, but it's much harder than it looks. The traffic isn't too heavy on this road so it's not often we're slowly inching along to the light at the corner. I have to act fast and most times, we're moving too fast to tell what I've taken a photo of.

In any event, more about the Great Wall of Qingdao here:
It is a fake wall which you can see in some parts of the wall that have fallen apart, though it's not obvious in these photos. You can, however, see what looks like water streaming down this rocky cliff-esque wall. It's just paint. Paint they need to touch up. But down those "streams" is where you will find people - men and women in dress shoes no less - risking life and limb to get down the wall to the bus stop. It boggles my mind!
 Here's another shot where you can see how rugged the wall is. If you fell off that, it would totally fucking suck. You probably wouldn't die...unless you hit your head hard enough. But still! How dumb do you have to be to risk severely injuring yourself to catch a bus?!? And shame on the city and apartment complex planners. They should have put in stairs or something so the residents could get to the bus easily. Morons.
Here's one last photo where you can see the size of the wall in comparison to some lady walking by it.

And now, I will remain vigilant in my attempts to photograph some crazy soul as they descend this man-made catastrophe in the making. I'll update this post if I can catch it! Stay tuned!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Presented With Little Comment: Engrish Science Projects

Next week at school, we'll have Science Day. My students will be bringing in their science projects to display on Monday. And when I say my students, I really mean their hyper-competitive moms who will likely do all the work for them. But the elementary students have already done their projects. They set up tables in the lobby, which is just outside the kindergarten, to display some of them, but the wind kept blowing them down so they moved them somewhere else. Where? I don't know, but I happened to notice something extremely amusing before all of them were moved.

I was bringing the kindergarten kids in from the school bus when I saw it. I did a quadruple take. Then, after I sent the children to class, I went back out to make sure I saw what I saw.

I know you want to see it too!
Why, yes! "Rice Curse" nearly caused me to pee my pants. In fact, if not for that, I probably wouldn't have noticed the project above it. Do you see what I see? Here's a closer look...

Coke Ejaculation.
I wonder if Patrick and Tony saw this.
I wonder where they have moved all these glorious projects now. Because I bet you I can find more insane Engrish on there.
And yes, I did notice it says "Dite Coke" on there.
And it says "Mentors" instead of "Mentos."
God, this thing is a gold mine of hilarity!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday Raelynn!!!!

And just like that, another year has passed and I cannot even believe that I can say I have a 2-year-old child. It feels like we just celebrated her first birthday. Today is Raelynn's actual birthday, but we had a big party over the weekend for her.

I know that despite the pictures I posted on FB, you are all gagging to know how it went down. How did I not kill MIL with the plastic cake cutter, you ask? Oh quite simply, she was not there. That's right. My in-laws were not invited to the bash. Now, before you think I'm some sort of hideous bitch (which, there's no denying, I am a bitch, but not a hideous one. Let's be clear on that.), my husband was actually on board that trolley too. He claims it's because no old people are being invited, but I think that's just what he tells them, and himself, to seem less harsh. I believe my husband feels the very same as I do. I did not invite my in-laws because my MIL would have made the whole thing about her, not Raelynn. I could just see her squawking away about how Raelynn should sit and eat, all the while with that old goat-headed beast shoveling food into my daughter's mouth. I could also see her preventing Raelynn from playing with the other children and buzzkilling the whole event for everyone.

Even though the old bat wouldn't be there, I was a ball of nerves. I'd arranged to have Raelynn's party in the cafeteria at my school. It's not the most scenic of places but it is bigger than our home. We needed somewhere with space. The sucky thing about China (or rather, one of the sucky things about China, since we know that many things suck here) is that there are no good places for children's birthday parties. They have some play places but most of them don't have good areas for adults to sit and watch their kids. Or to enjoy cake afterward either. Plus, they aren't cheap. I felt tacky asking people to come to our party, bring a gift AND pay for their children to play. It's still rather cold here even though we're in the middle of April. And Qingdao is always very windy. So having an outdoor thing would have been difficult too. The school was our best bet.

I pinned a ton of crap on Pinterest from recipes to party ideas. And even though I had my plans all laid out, I began to panic. My sweet fairy godmother Pixie had said it best when she told me not to worry and that if anything did go wrong, I'd probably be the only one to notice. Pixie, you were right!

I made these awesome BLT roll-ups. But when I cut them, they fell apart. Nobody cared though. In fact, it was the most popular item. That and my no-bake cookies and cream bars. They were to be like rice krispy treats but with Oreos. I messed up my measurements though because I'm not used to using the metric system. That and a package of Oreos here is smaller than the ones in the states. But even though they turned out differently than they were supposed to, they were awesome. I had rave reviews about those too.

I couldn't get any outlet to work to plug my iPod dock in. So no music. Our only alternative was to run a long cable from the front of the cafeteria to the back where we were, but inexplicably, there was a ton of water at the entrance of the cafeteria, and I wasn't up for getting electrocuted. No one cared though. The children were all happily entertained with the Spongebob coloring pages I'd brought for them. Raelynn hit it off immediately with my Western boss, Patrick's son, Tommy. It was adorable.

Anyway, here are some highlights...

Raelynn checks out the decorations I made. She was so excited to see Spongebob. And she kept chattering about the fish.

She loves coloring so imagine her surprise when she got to color her favorite, Spongebob! Yeah, that kept her happy and busy.

 Raelynn and Tommy meet and this picture is just epic because they were pretty much inseparable the whole party. Awwww!

 Raelynn, down on the floor gathering markers, is quietly coloring with her new BFF Tommy, Eva, little Jenny (the baby on the table) and an adorable Chinese girl, who is the daughter of some of Jeremy's friends.

Here's the cake. Another thing that went wrong, in my eyes at least, was this thing. We ordered it from a Korean bakery where we have sampled many sweet treats. Everyone, especially Raelynn, really enjoyed the cake. But I was pissed about it. I had asked for no fruit. I wanted all chocolate, including the frosting. The cake wasn't bad, but the one we ordered last year from the bakery in the Hisense was so much better in my opinion. Oh well. Now I know where I won't be ordering her cake for next year at least.

 The perfect family photo.

 More kiddy coloring, and Raelynn and Tommy are still hanging out the whole time. Adorbs!

And here is the birthday girl enjoying a piece of cake.

I got a lot of compliments from our friends about the food, which was nice. The mommy friends I've made here all told me I was crazy and brave to have planned such an awesome party. They confided they always had their children's birthday parties during non-meal hours. That's a good idea for next year. Even though I was completely wiped out from all the cooking and stress, I am so happy I did this for my girl. She'll only be 2 once. It was important to me to make it special.

Now on her actual birthday, our poor little angel threw up a couple times today. I want to blame MIL for it but Raelynn might actually just be sick which isn't anyone's fault. So this mommy won't sleep well tonight as I'll be listening to her baby monitor and waiting in case she needs me. All I wish for her birthday is for her to be happy and healthy. At least she was happy and smiley when I put her to bed. She didn't want any milk which is a first for her. I'm sure she'll cry for it later though.

In any event, Raelynn, your Daddy and I want you to know that you are such a wonderful little girl. We cannot even believe how smart you are or how fast you are growing up! It amazes us what an independent little person you are becoming. You are also so kind and compassionate, it makes us proud. You are our little Raelynn of sunshine and we love you more than you will ever be able to fathom. Happy 2nd Birthday!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Oops...She Did It Again

I wish this thing would come eat my in-laws and all their vomitous clothing gifts.

Remember when MIL pissed me off by going through our dirty laundry basket just to find one of the ugly garments she'd bought for Raelynn so she could wash it by hand in her foul-smelling piss-stench soap? Yeah, well that old crusty, unwashed, nut-brained troll has gone and done it again. Even after my husband told her that I don't feel comfortable with someone else rooting through our laundry basket. It just further proves my point that even though she tells my husband how much she cares for us (me included) she has zero respect for me. But yet I am supposed to respect HER. Well, any chance she ever had of me actually respecting her just flew out the window and shat upon the grimy streets of Qingdao.

Last week, I came home to discover she'd bought the world's ugliest pants ever manufactured for our precious daughter, hand washed them and hung them to dry on the arm of my computer chair. Because she's too lazy or stupid to get the rack for wet clothes. Or maybe she was taunting me. Now that I think about it, perhaps it was a taunt. I say this because when I came home today, she'd snagged them off the drying rack. I normally don't leave dry clothes on there for days on end, but we had Raelynn's birthday party on Saturday and then Sunday, I had a first-class migraine. So everything waited until today, Monday. I was actually going to put them in the closet. Under ALL the pants. She'd have found them with little effort. I was trying to be nice. But I am never being nice to that vile buzzard-brained bovine ever again. EVER.

It wasn't that she took the pants off the rack, likely stashing them in her haggish bag to sneak onto Raelynn when I go to work. Don't be fooled - that pisses me off but nothing made me more enraged to toss the laundry into the washer and discover the red, grandma-esque sweater she'd bought for Raelynn wasn't there. I'd told her, as did her own son, that I would wash it when I did the laundry. It was in our laundry basket. Now, I didn't like the sweater too much but it wasn't completely unfortunate looking. For her, it was an improvement. I'd decided I'd pick my battles and I'd be kind about this sweater. But that wasn't good enough for her. Again, she violated my privacy - after being told that it was upsetting and disrespectful to me - just so she could be a manipulative fuck like she always is.

You asked for it, MIL. All bets are off. If you think I wasn't nice to you before, you are in for a new wave of total bitchiness from me. I will not have you come into my house and invade my privacy. I wish I could put a cobra in there or that the laundry monster would come and gobble her up. What a total asshat she is.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pukey In Pink

In less than a week, my precious daughter turns 2. I can't even believe it. I'm up to my eyeballs with birthday party crap from recipes to decorations and everything in between, of course. In the midst of all this, when I came home the other day, MIL tells Jeremy and me how the pants I dressed Raelynn in that morning don't fit anymore. She said they were too small. For the record, they were older but they still fit just fine. In any event, I told her we had plenty of stuff for her and she did not need to buy Raelynn anything.

In fact, I actually begged her to please not buy Raelynn any clothes. We have seen what kind of shit MIL buys (check out exhibits A and B for example). She overpays for things so she can brag about how much she spent and hey, look what a good person she is spending her squirreled-away money on the ugliest fucking clothes you've ever seen. Ugh. Aside from totally hating her style (or complete lack of it), we have plenty of things that fit her now. New things too. Why, then, would I put her in a pair of older pants that MIL would accuse of being too small? Quite simply, I don't want to come home to find a shirt I've only dressed Raelynn in once that should fit her for a whole year is now stained with soy sauce and greasy grossness because the senile old cow forgot to put a bib on her before giving her lunch.

But MIL took this as yet another opportunity to shit all over my wishes and disregard showing any respect toward me, which is exactly why I cannot stand her. If she'd only shut her fat, broken-toothed yak-faced mouth and not make everything about her for a change, perhaps she could listen and actually hear what I'm saying to her. And yes, I had asked her nicely in Chinese, in case you were wondering. Dumb ears strike again because when I came home, this is what I found, wet and "hanging" to dry on top of my computer chair. Because...because she's too stupid to hang it on the clothing rack? I don't know. I haven't figured that out yet. Maybe I never will. But in any event, take a look at the vomitous pink atrocity she brought us today:
This picture is of the front of the pants. Now, I love pink. I really do. The smiley faces just fuck up what would have been a simple pair of pink pants. Why do they fucking do this here?!? GOD! And they actually do sell plenty of plain pants in all kinds of colors. You just have to know where to shop. And MIL, as we all know, has no idea where to shop.  Durrrr! Anyway, on to the back...

 Help me. Please, just...somebody, help me. I can't. What the fuck is this idiotic shit on here? I hate it. Also, being a stickler for proper English language usage and an English teacher, this lack of anything resembling coherent English is really just crushing my soul. Take a closer look:

All caps. All crap. "Super Fashion" my ass. It's horrible. MIL can't read English of course so you know her dumbass thought it probably said something cool. How I wish it said: "I did not pick out this fugly garment. Please don't judge my daughter or me at the next play group when her yodel-brained grandmother takes her while I am stuck at work."

I told my husband that if he loves me, he will never allow his mother to take Raelynn to her Wednesday morning play group dressed in these. Judging from the look on his face, I don't think I have a problem.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Never Again!

During the last weekend, my husband and I had to run some errands. What's a weekend without errands, right? The pressure is on as Raelynn's birthday party is rapidly approaching so off we went to start getting our supplies. I made a list a mile long of things we needed, but since the party is 2 weeks off and a lot of the stuff I need must be fresh, those things would have to wait. So we headed off to Carrefour downtown on Hong Kong Road for paper plates and such.

As we were leaving, I started to pull out the stroller. "No, no. We don't need the stroller," Jeremy tells me.
"Yes we do," I say, perplexed. "It will be impossible to shop AND keep Raelynn from running off or grabbing things."
"No, she'll be fine. I'll watch her," he says.

Oh really?
Famous man words, let me just tell you.

Once inside the store, Raelynn was like a little mischief-prone gnome. Normally, she's strapped in her stroller and just takes everything in. But not on this day. With her new-found freedom, she touched and grabbed anything shiny, colorful or fluffy. And of course, she lunged for potentially-dangerous items. Yes, Honey, fucking brilliant idea to go to Carrefour without a stroller. Now I was stuck reading things off the list, looking for them AND trying to prevent Raelynn from causing any major damage. Was my husband watching her? You bet. He was watching her pull shit off the shelves. Though he did intercede when she'd grabbed a small glass ashtray. Oddly, it was in the same aisle as paper plates, which, just as oddly, had drinking straws and plastic Chinese-style soup spoons but no plastic forks. Go figure.

The aisle of toys was amusing at least. Raelynn pulled all these rubber donkeys off the shelves...
She kept saying "donkey" too which made it all the more adorable.

I love the face here. She totally doesn't get why we're telling her "no." She's all "but I want to play with these donkeys Mom and Dad! Sheesh! You guys are SUCH buzzkills!" The employee assigned to the toy aisle looked a little worried, like we were going to let her make a mess and not pick it up but we're not assholes of course. It took us a little bit to put the donkeys back because each time we put one back on the shelf, she snatched another one. Oh toddlers!

In any event, my husband has hung his tail in shame, as he should. And it has now been decreed in our home that the stroller comes with for all shopping trips until Raelynn can refrain from causing chaos.