Friday, July 19, 2013

RIP Tomato And Eggplant Deliciousness

After a nice day of shopping with my husband, I had looked forward to making a very simple dinner out of leftovers in our refrigerator. The other day, I'd made homemade tomato sauce and served it with fried eggplant and rosemary flatbread (also homemade). It was almost like a cheese-less pizza. It was incredibly delicious.

Unfortunately, I did not know then that MIL would dispose of this - the only thing she's ever thrown out of our refrigerator, incidentally - and shove in about 40 baozi, or steamed stuffed buns. Which I fucking hate. They are so bready to me. While her dumplings are usually pretty good, depending on the filling, I can almost surely bet the farm every time that the baozi will taste like they are stuffed with shit and farts.

What an insipid old troll! Sure, I have tomatoes and eggplant in the fridge but by the time I discovered she'd tossed my prepared dish, it was too late to whip up more. I needed to get dinner on the table before Raelynn went nuts. So thanks again, MIL. You also broke my kitchen gloves with your goat hooves, filling them with water in the process. So much fun to have little mini-swimming pools on my fucking hands you know. Next time you come over, I will throw out your food in front of you and see how you like it. Oh and Raelynn wouldn't eat your baozi either. She did, however, eat my ham and cheese sandwich. So there.

Retail Therapy

It's amazing how refreshed you feel after going shopping, isn't it? I have always loved shopping. ALWAYS. It's one of my absolute favorite things to do. Even in tight financial times, to just buy myself a little tube of lip gloss or a shirt from the sale rack would do wonders for my well-being. Add to that the company of one of my gal pals (or even my fashionably awesome gay friend), some lunch and some wine, and it was a recipe for total rejuvenation.

When I lived in Seoul, I must confess that I went shopping almost daily. It's true. There are shops everywhere. Underground in the subway stations and all along the streets. So many great finds for so incredibly cheap. Clothes. Shoes. Purses. Make-up. It was like I'd died and gone to shopping mall heaven. Then, I got pregnant and my last shopping trips before we moved from Seoul consisted of buying maternity wear.

And now we're in China. The street markets aren't as awesome (or clean) as the ones I'd come to love in Seoul. But there are malls here of course. That's not the problem. It's trying to navigate a mall with a rambunctious toddler. I don't know how anyone does it alone. It's so stressful that I have put off shopping for ages just because I cannot deal with the pretty and shiny things AND mind what my child is doing. How do other moms do this, I wonder to myself as I struggle to pick Raelynn up off the floor she has somehow become so attached to while everyone stares at me and everyone in a 12-mile radius becomes deafened by her shrieking.

No matter how crazy she can be, she is my kid and I love her to pieces. I love spending time with her and my heart hurts when I am apart from her. But every mommy needs a break sometimes. And that includes THIS mommy!

I had made plans with a gal pal of mine who's still here for the summer unlike most of the other expats who have all gone off on trips to home. It was just going to be us girls, having some lunch and drinks. I can't even begin to tell you how much I was looking forward to this outing. I NEEDED IT. My husband is starting to understand this aspect of my culture - that sure, married couples need to hang with other married couples BUT women will ALWAYS need their girlfriends. Here, I have found it extremely difficult to make friends. Even in Seoul, it was so much easier to make friends. I actually had found 3 wonderful girlfriends here, but 2 of them moved to other parts of China and the other one moved back to her home of Australia.

Anyway, I lined up my in-laws to come over and watch Raelynn during the day, which would kill 2 birds with one stone. I'd have someone to watch my child (albeit someone with a pea-brain) and my in-laws would get to spend time with Raelynn which they of course enjoy doing. I even confirmed with this friend yesterday if we were still on and she told me that yes, we were still having our girls' day. So imagine my surprise when I get a text (not a call mind you, but a text) last night asking me to call her because she didn't want to wake the baby. She'd sent it around 9pm, when we were out to dinner with my husband's old soccer coach who has been visiting all this week, but I was too busy trying not to gag on huo guo, which means hot pot. I HATE HOT POT. I totally do. You have a big pot of boiling water on your table and you drop in raw meats and veggies and then pull them out after they have been boiled. Then, you are supposed to drag them into this slimy peanut sauce. I HATE IT. They gave me some soy sauce to dip my food in which helped a bit but it still was not what I wanted. All through that meal, I kept thinking that the next day, my friend and I would eat something normal. Something Americans find delicious. Not soggy meat in slimy sauce.

Once we were home and Raelynn was asleep about an hour later, that's when I saw her message. My heart sank. I knew right then she was going to bail. It was so epic too. When I replied to her text, she responded that because she's changing schools this semester, she's having a visa crisis and might get deported. I stood there, staring at the phone in disbelief. They have made some changes to the visa requirements recently, but I've never heard of a school not being able to extend a visa for a teacher while things get taken care of. I felt sorry for her but then, a bit angry. Because here she is contacting me at 9pm about this. Surely, she didn't just find this mess out after her dinner, no? Of course not. And that's when I just felt like giving up on making friends here completely. By the way, for my guy friends here - you all are great. Really. You and your wives and your sweet kids are all wonderful friends, but I'm complaining about a lack of girlfriends here.

All this made me so sad for home. So much sadder than usual. So all my girls back home (and my girls in Korea too) - you all know who you are too - thank you for being my friends even while I am so far away. I need you more than ever now. I look forward to a day where we can go shopping with reckless abandonment (or somewhat reckless anyway). A day where we can drink so much wine that we need one of our husbands to come get us. A day where we can eat the most fattening sampling of desserts ever and not once think about all those horrid calories flocking to our asses and thighs. Yes, girls. When I come back home, it's on.

Jeremy of course hates to see his wife sad. And of course he owed me for the foot incident, not to mention the whole watch-losing-drunken-situation. So when I told him to tell his parents not to bother coming to watch Raelynn, he said no way. He'd reschedule his morning for me and take me shopping in Taidong, which is basically a giant outside mall of walking streets filled with all kinds of shops, and then we could have lunch together, just the two of us. We had been wanting to do something like this for a while and now with my so-called friend's flake-out, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. We haven't had a date without Raelynn since our anniversary last September.

Raelynn was understandably quite upset to be getting the shaft as she realized we were leaving her with Grandpa and Grandma. I felt my eyes well up with tears as she cried for me when I walked out the door. No. Must be strong. Must do something for me so I can be a good mommy for her. Off we went. It was so weird to be in the car together and not hear Raelynn counting or pointing out buses and taxis. Or screaming for crackers. Or just screaming in general.

When we got to Taidong, Jeremy asked me where I'd like to go first. One of the things I wanted was to get new shoes for Raelynn. She needed a pair of nice dressy shoes to go with this awesome fancy dress my folks had sent her. I had the good sense to trace her foot so we'd know we were buying the right size shoe. In Taidong, there is this awesome baby store but it is chaotic. Having Raelynn with us just makes it so much more stressful. Now was our chance to buy the shoes quickly, without any tantrums or fuss. But my husband wagged his finger at me. No, you first. We will buy something you want for you first, he insisted.

So we went to my favorite little make-up shop. The woman who owns it has lots of make-up imported from Korea, some knock-offs of high-end stuff, and even some stuff from the states. All of it at great prices. She's also patient as I try to speak to her in my poor Chinese. It helps that I can gesture to her about what I'm looking for. If I have more specific questions, my husband helps me ask her. After buying me some nail polish and eye make-up, we make our way to the fancy department store. Unlike the small make-up boutique, it is air-conditioned, and we kind of just bask in that coolness for a moment before moving on. We look at iPads. We look at jewelry. We look at...Skin Food.

When I first went to Korea, I remember being in a taxi and seeing a store called Skin Food and about peeing my pants laughing my ass off. All I could think of was the old Ren & Stimpy cartoons with Powdered Toast Man scraping his face off.
But of course, Skin Food has nothing to do with him. It is filled with tons of amazing skincare products. When I lived in Seoul, it was seriously all I ever used on my skin. And now, there is a kiosk in this mall, which my wonderful husband made a purchase from all in the name of keeping me happy.

Next, we wandered around toward the watches. I wanted him to have a new watch. Watches are important to Chinese people. Just like having a nice car, a nice watch gives you a good status. My husband was tempted to buy a cheap watch at a kiosk in front of the Wal-Mart, where we had wound up running in for an umbrella when a sudden downpour attempted to thwart our fun. But they looked as cheap as their prices. Inside the nice mall, I managed to find him yet another beautiful watch that was just right for him, and just right in price.

After that, we bought shoes and new markers for Raelynn. And then we had lunch at McDonald's. It was so much fun to get to hang out with my husband like that again, sharing our new umbrella in the rain and laughing away the day. He might not be one of the girls, but he sure is one hell of a guy. Thanks for a great day, honey! I love you!

The Y Chromosome Theory

This post is dedicated to my wonderful friend, Nancy, who had recently remarked, after she'd read my post about my husband injuring his ankle and acting like a world-class brat, that she believed it was the y chromosome that caused men - her own husband included - to do stupid things.  Stupid things that no woman would ever do. I think Nancy is absolutely on to something with this theory of hers. Especially after the other night.

My husband's former soccer coach is in town visiting. So of course, we had to go out to dinner with him and his family. And all of my husband's soccer friends who live in town here came too. The soccer coach has a lovely wife and they are one of the few Chinese families I've ever met to have 2 children. They have a little girl who is about 6 and a little boy who is Raelynn's age. The boy, as are most little Chinese boys, was a little bit of a trouble-maker. Raelynn initially kept running to me and throwing her arms around me. "What's wrong, sweetie?" I asked her. "BOY!" she shouted, pointing at him and crying. Poor Raelynn. I didn't have the heart to tell her that they will just make you scream and cry all the more the older you get. That's a conversation for later, of course.

We were able to get the boy to play as nicely as his sister was playing and the children had fun while us adults ate and drank. I didn't eat very much - it was mostly Chinese dishes that I didn't care for - but drank quite a bit. My husband said he hadn't had time for lunch during work that day. Despite my being a bit tipsy, I was still level-headed. Why? Because I'm watching my kid. I'm making sure she doesn't run out the door, choke on a bottle cap, pick up someone's discarded cigarette butts from the floor, break things and everything else all you other moms reading this are surely nodding about as you silently go down the list of things you check for when you are out some place with your toddler.

Even though I had a lot to drink, I noticed my husband was the picture of pure drunkeness. I know, I know. He was having fun with his friends. And so was I. They were fun! But Jeremy can't handle his booze like I can. I don't know why. What I do know though is that all that beer and that y chromosome of his soon were the downfall of his evening.

It was getting late so I decided to take Raelynn home. One of the other wives did not drink and offered to give us a lift. She took us to the hotel where the visiting family was staying. I was confused by this initially, but welcomed it as a good chance to use the bathroom again before I flailed my arms at passing taxis. When I came outside, all the husbands, including mine, were outside. And my husband was SMOKING! I couldn't believe it. He used to holler at me for smoking in Korea. And there he is like the Marlboro Man. I forgave it though...if I didn't have Raelynn with me I might cave in a drunken moment like that. Besides, he did flag me down a taxi, however he almost walked right into it when it was departing. And thus, the y chromosome begins to do its' thing.

I get home and put Raelynn to bed. Then I get myself ready for bed. But I can't really fall asleep. Because I am worried about my sweet husband and can't fully sleep until he gets home. This, dear men, is the opposite of your y chromosome.

I dozed off for about 10 minutes and then I hear our doorbell. I jump out of bed, realizing that Jeremy didn't have his house keys. What I find standing in front of me is my husband in his boxers, carrying his shirt and pants.

"What's going on?!? Why are you in your underwear?!?" I demand. But he pushes past me angrily and I realize that I'm not going to get an answer right then. Not unless I want him to yell loudly enough to wake Raelynn.

So what did happen? My husband and his y chromosome banged on the window of one of the first floor apartments because the stupid call box by the building entry was broken AGAIN. An old guy who didn't recognize my husband as a resident of this building came out, ripped his shirt and tried to choke him. Yes, really! How the pants came off in that is a mystery but I think Jeremy probably went for his belt. Somehow during this kerfuffle, Jeremy lost his watch. The splendid, very nice watch I bought him for his birthday when I was in Singapore just 4 months before Raelynn was born.

To top it all off, he voraciously vomited in our bathroom and managed to clog and overfill the sink. At least he cleaned it all up, though I did my own cleaning of it in the morning, complete with buttloads of cleansers to get that disgusting feeling of ickiness the bathroom seemed to encompass after this evening. 

I have to admit, I was really angry with him for all of this. From his idiotic drunken behavior to his ripped shirt and from his grumpy attitude toward me of all people to his losing of this somewhat pricey watch. And let's not forget how he defiled our poor bathroom! It was indeed that y chromosome in full effect. How men are ever put in charge of countries and companies is a mystery to me!

But something happened. Jeremy felt horrible. He was so sad the next day, I couldn't berate him. He was punishing himself enough. And then I realized how lucky I was - that crazy old guy on the first floor could have stabbed my poor drunk husband to death. I'm so glad he didn't. He shouldn't have attacked my husband, but in the old man's defense, my husband said he'd never seen that guy before. So if this guy never met my husband and here he is, all drunk at midnight pounding on the windows, I can't say I blame him for going after him. Suck as it did for my husband to lose such a lovely item, it could have been much worse.

I realize now that this isn't Jeremy's fault. I put the blame squarely on that reckless y chromosome of his. And it owes me one very nice man's watch.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cry Baby

It's a boy! What, you didn't know I had another baby? Well, I didn't actually. Jeremy and I have been talking about having another child, but that talk became reality on Saturday when my normally sweet and wonderful husband came home from his soccer game in the afternoon.

Here's a fun fact about Jeremy: he played soccer in college. He was good too. He could have gone pro but he wanted to further his education. That's when he left China and moved to Korea to get his masters degree. He doesn't regret giving up a potential soccer career but he certainly missed playing it for fun. Several months ago, he joined a soccer group and even found some of his old soccer chums. Honestly, it made me happy to see him happy. Until he came home this past Saturday.

"I'm hurt!" he croaked as he walked into our home. Raelynn and I stop our little tea party and go see what's the matter. He tells me he hurt his ankle very badly. He can barely walk. "I'll be alright," he tells me. Now, I know my husband and I know he can sometimes try to be a bit macho about things. I want to look at it and ask him some questions about how his foot feels so I can better help him. Of course, I'm no doctor, but my father is a radiologist, conveniently enough, and despite not following in his footsteps, I have a bit of a knack for handling these kinds of injuries.

Jeremy sits down on our couch and I take a look at his ankle. It's huge. His foot looks a bit like a ham, but thankfully, is not discolored. Judging from the looks of it and how he could still walk around, albeit in horrible pain, I felt that it wasn't broken. He started getting snippy with me when I asked him questions about his foot felt too, but I brushed his grouchiness off. I told him he needed to sit down and elevate that foot with ice on it. And so I began the process of rushing about the house, fetching him ice and a stool to leverage his foot up with and so on and so forth. And it was during this time that I found myself with not 1 temperamental toddler, but 2.

Now, before you tell me to give the poor guy a break, I will say this: I've broken my foot before. And I've sprained my ankles as well. I know what each of them feel like. And while breaking a bone is the worst suckage of all, spraining your ankle and having it swell up is quite painful in and of itself. It's frustrating too. You can't get around very easily and now simple tasks, like getting up and going to the bathroom, are now complex. I get it. I also get how disappointing it is to have to stay off your foot for a while, especially when you've got a lot of things to do. So understanding those things, I tried to smile while my husband acted like a total brat. Tried.

He kept getting up and hobbling around, looking for things he didn't need to use at that moment - a Korean book, some paperwork, etc. And then he'd consequently bitch about how much it hurt. Stay the fuck in bed and put your foot up and the pain will start to subside! Yeesh! He also got all crabby about using an ice pack. "It's cold!" he whined. Um, IT'S ICE. It's supposed to be cold. Der. Then, came the bitchy comments regarding where I should shift the ice on his foot. "Up more. NO! Down! OUCH! Like this! No! Like that!" I smiled as I imagined cramming that ice into his peehole.

Then, he'd call for me and order me around, like I was some pawn on a chess board. Now, I realize that I'm his wife and he's injured, and I need to help him. But he suddenly seemed to forget how to use "please" and "thank you." At one point, he got so surly with me that he chucked the ice pack across the room. It landed with a thud and skidded to a halt at my feet.

I had no time for that shit. I needed to make dinner for Raelynn. Dealing with her was slightly easier at least. By chance, I had to go back into the bedroom for something and now my husband was full of kindness and apologies. I scowled at him for a bit but eventually forgave him. And just like Raelynn, he was a good baby for a little while.

It didn't last.

Once Raelynn was asleep, he began with his bitching again. I did everything I could to try to make him comfortable but he was just determined to defy me. Then, he began to panic. What if it IS broken? And now, I begin to worry too, because he's screaming in pain. The sensible part of me knows it can't be broken. It looked like this, by the way:
This is not Jeremy's foot, but it could totally double for it in a movie. Seriously.

Anyway, while his foot remained quite swollen, there was no bruising still, which made me stand firm on my earlier assessment of it not being broken. Still, I couldn't remember howling in this much pain the last time I'd injured myself in this fashion. He couldn't sleep and now he was making sure I was miserable too. He started bitching at me about everything. I briefly contemplated kicking him in the other ankle. Instead, I told him that if he was in that much pain, he should go see a doctor in the morning.

When Raelynn woke up in the middle of the night, he moved into her room and set up camp on the floor where he could more easily elevate his leg. I offered him some assistance only to be sworn at in Chinese repeatedly so I left him there on the floor to have his tantrum by himself. Now I couldn't sleep and spent most of the rest of the night watching my precious daughter as she dreamed away.

In the morning, my 2nd horribly behaved toddler had vanished. In his place was my husband, almost good as new. His ankle was still swollen but he was in much less pain. Off he went to the doctor and came back even more chipper still. I'd been right - it was not broken. The doctor gave him some things to help with the swelling and pain, and it's looking much better.

Jeremy was very sorry for his behavior. I've been a bitch to him at times too. It's called marriage. And at the end of the day, we've got a pretty solid one.

Even after all this, I still want another child. Though not a boy. No way.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

More Dresses From The Dump

Ahhhh, summer vacation! Finally, 5 weeks of freedom from kindergarten, which I will spend the majority of hiding in the chilled confines of my A/C-filled apartment with my screamy toddler, is here. No teaching, extra time with Raelynn...AND no MIL. Most of the time, anyway. My husband has invited his parents over for dinner tonight. And they'll have some opportunity to spend time with Raelynn when I want to meet up with friends or have a date with my husband that doesn't involve tantrums and incessant interruptions.

Summer. My chance to dress Raelynn the way I want to dress her without some old troll redressing her into a rag from the donations bin while I'm away. Speaking of rags, remember that one rag that "disappeared?" Jeremy asked me if I'd seen a white skirt. I'm sorry, but that is barely white. And it's no skirt. Not that either one of them would know that. I can't blame my husband...he's a man. What does it matter if he confuses dresses and skirts? Now, MIL on the other hand SHOULD know these things. But she doesn't. Of course, you shouldn't be surprised. Anyway, I played dumb, which I feel horrible about. But I'm tired of things going like this:
Me: "Your mother brought over some horrible rag to dress Raelynn in. She looks like a mutant."
Him: "She's old. And she's not a mutant."
Me: "No, Raelynn looks like the mutant in that rag. Your mom is...something else."
Him: "My parents do so many things for our family. You just don't appreciate them."
Me: "What does that have to do with this? And what does them being old have to do with anything anyway?"

And on and on and ON it goes until I want to scream and flail my arms as I run down the street. I don't think the Chinese people in this neighborhood could possibly stare at me more than they already do though. I love my husband dearly but I absolutely hate it when he just doesn't have my back. It's always his parents' needs and wants. Though he did put his foot down when they wanted to live with us when Raelynn was born, and for that I am eternally thankful.

So forgive me, dear husband, that I pretended not to know where that one rag was. I knew. I just let it hang out under the crib for a week until my vacation so I could wash it myself and then hide it in the closet. Then Raelynn might only get stuck wearing it once or twice more before the fall weather starts and with any luck, she'll have totally outgrown it by next summer (or MIL will forget all about it when I move the summer stuff into our storage bags so we have more room for the winter stuff).

MIL obviously isn't too upset over that rag. Because during my last week of school, I came home to find Raelynn dressed in this:
This is actually MUCH better than the rag that I made vanish temporarily. I want to like it. Really. I do. I almost like it. What's my problem with it? Well, it looks a bit worn, doesn't it? This is after I washed it and hung it to dry so it looks much nicer than when I first saw it. But it looks like it has been washed a lot because it has those little balls of fuzz on the white knit part of it.

Also, it says something in rhinestones which I could do without, honestly. I can't even figure out what it says. It's missing some rhinestones. I know MIL didn't just buy this thing. She either dug it out of the trash, stole it off another child or, based on the other raggy dress, I really suspect she had this and the other dress last summer and kept them at her house. Then when she'd take Raelynn over to her smelly, non-air-conditioned home, she'd throw her in one of these things. Knowing MIL, it makes a ton of sense.

 Can you figure out what this says? Me neither!

 All that aside, THIS is my major problem with this dress. You'll notice it has a zipper part on the side which is unzipped but it doesn't go to the edge of the fabric. The edge of the fabric is TORN. And frayed. It looks shitty. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but someone took a few stitches to it in an off-colored thread which only adds to the demise of what was once a cute little dress.

 Maybe you can see that in these 2 shots as well...

You know what's extra annoying about this? MIL CAN SEW. She can sew very well, actually. I can put buttons back on and fix split seams but I'm no seamstress. I've no idea why MIL would not repair this as expertly as I've seen her repair other things. Yet another mystery about the old troll that we will likely never solve.