Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Rewind

Here's a photo of the original party princess, Raelynn!

New Year's is here already (at least in China, it is). What are your plans? Once upon a time, I was out at smoke-filled bars enjoying overpriced bottle service in the VIP section of the hottest clubs until the sun came up. Now I'm lucky if I can even stay awake until midnight. But you know what? I'm happier this way. Truly I am. Though I do wish I could at least STAY UP until midnight, you know? The last few years have been like this for me. Jeremy too. We try our best. I usually fall out first though. But hey, I'm pregnant so I can (and should!) go to sleep when I'm beat.

When I think about this year, I feel like I started making some progress with my in-laws. Some. Rome was not built in a day. Neither was the Great Wall of China. But now that I'm pregnant again, I'm feeling that territorial growl rising up inside of me. The one that desperately wants to get Raelynn potty trained while I'm on my 2-month winter vacation so she can come to school with me in March. Not only do I want to remove her from my in-laws' care, I also want to keep them from having 2 children to look after at once. I'm not at all convinced they could manage to watch both children without any problems. Besides, Raelynn needs to be around other children more than just a couple times a week. I worry about this poor baby though. Hang in there, baby! I'll save you!

Which makes me think that as soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, thus rendering it January 1, 2014, I am that much closer to my due date. July 2014 seems so far away now. Until the year changes and I'm actually IN 2014. That's trippy. I am trying to imagine what life will be like for us with 2 kids. And it honestly scares me a bit. I seriously fear this kid will be a boy and that I will be miserable. So my first New Year's resolution will be to just get over that. Because, yeah, boys suck and they smell. But MINE won't. Right? Oh GOD.

So, 2013. Yeah. Not a bad year. It's been fun watching Raelynn grow up more and my happiest moments from this year have been when I've been playing with her. This year, we also had a great time down in Shanghai visiting with my family, plus I got to meet a friend of mine who I'd only known online for 15 years. Good stuff! What else? I had my third kindergarten graduation. I made some new friends here. I got back in shape. We celebrated 3 years of marriage. This year was mostly a good one. I have to focus on the positive, but of course, there were a few negatives. I had a couple friends pass away this year and it wasn't easy to handle. It still isn't, but that's life for you.

Anyway, if you want to sift through your favorite A Broad Abroad (a blog a blog) moments from 2013, you can do so here for shits and giggles. And stay tuned for 2014. Because there's a baby coming. And there will be a ton of crazy crap from my in-laws, I'm sure. Speaking of my in-laws, every New Year's Day, I am forced to spend with them. It's true. It's horrible. It happens to be FIL's birthday on January 1st. But thankfully, because I am pregnant, instead of forcing us to endure their house of nasty, they will come over here. And just for dinner. So I'm at least spared having a whole day of them on my first day off during my winter vacation. Hooray! At least I can take a nap if they bore me to sleep. I was wondering how I'd endure not drinking around them. Honestly, there are some things alcohol makes better and my in-laws' company is one of those things. I might also go hungry because many Chinese food smells lately have been leaving me nauseated. Especially if MIL has cooked it. Maybe she'll surprise me though. And not in a look-I-made-you-chicken-feet kind of way, I hope.

Thank you all for reading my blog this year and I hope you'll keep reading it into the new year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And the year after that. And, well, you get the idea! May you all have a new year that is happy and bright, and if you have annoying in-laws, may they be less bothersome in the coming year. Happy New Year, from my little growing family to yours!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Today, we went to the Wanda Plaza mall after Raelynn's play group. I'd been talking with some of the moms in the group about maternity wear. Many of them had stuff they'd brought with them from the US (or had visiting relatives bring). I myself have some things that are still in good condition from when I was pregnant with Raelynn, but I bought those things when we still lived in Seoul. I'm still able to fit into regular pants but they are getting more and more snug. It's only a matter of time before I have to say goodbye to real waistlines and don maternity wear full-time.

One of my guy friends is married to a lovely Chinese woman who happened to be there today. They have 2 kids, so I asked her where she shopped when she was pregnant. She told us the name of a store called October Baby. She said they're in every major mall here, even the Wanda Plaza mall, which is closest to us. So Jeremy and I decided we'd go there for lunch and then look at maternity clothes for me.

We ate a quick lunch and then we went to find the maternity store our friend had told us about. We decided that, instead of wandering around the mall with a toddler (who actually happened to be very good today, thankfully), we should ask about it at the information station. Now, just like in the US, there are information stations in the malls and the airports and such. And they are universally adorned with an "i" to indicate information can be found there. So we head toward it.

There's one lone guy behind the counter. Jeremy asks him if there's a maternity store called October Baby. The guy says he doesn't think so, but he's not sure. So Jeremy asks him if he could tell us where ANY maternity stores are in this mall and the guy says he has no idea. He tells us he only has a small list of stores in the mall, not a full list. One of them is the Vans Department Store (not affiliated with the brand of shoes, incidentally). He says maybe there might be maternity clothes in there. Ok, could you call them and ask them if they carry maternity clothes, my husband asks. And then the sorry excuse for an information guy points at some phone numbers on display and says WE can call them. Then my husband asks him where the closest entrance to the department store is from where we are and the information guy says, "I don't know, but you can try walking that way. I think it's over there." Yes. This really happened. There are many people like this in their jobs here. Utterly useless. How the hell can you work in an information booth and have no fucking information for anyone? I have never before seen anything like it. It's even worse than the Carrefour on Shandong Road where you ask employees what aisle something is in and before you can even finish asking them they curtly snap, "Meiyou!" which means "don't have." Lovely. It's why we never go to that location anymore. It's the worst Carrefour in the city. In case it's not obvious from this tale (or many of my others) customer service doesn't exist in this country.

Would you like to see the lazy mis(ter)information guy? Sure you would! Photo credits for this post go to my amazing husband. Thank you Jeremy!

Do you see this? He is just playing on his phone. What a waste of a salary on this guy. I guess if you want a cushy job in China, work in an information kiosk.

I love my husband. He blatantly walked up close for this shot. And this guy is too oblivious to notice. Congratulations, useless tool! You're being made fun of in my blog.

So, you might be wondering if we found maternity wear or not. We sure did. But in the Vans Department Store, it was insanely priced. I found a ton of pants I liked priced from 346 rmb to 549 rmb. Yeah, I'm not paying those prices. I showed Jeremy every pair I liked and we checked the sizes. We ordered them off TaoBao for much cheaper. Here's hoping our measurements are correct and the material isn't shitty. It's got to be better than the crap we found at the market out in Taidong (the best area of town to shop). There, some buttfuck was smoking inside the store and my child had thrown an epic tantrum but I still got a chance to leaf through a few things. And all of them were horrid. They looked like they were made for midgets or small children (child bride, anyone?) and they all were decorated with stupid babyish crap on them, like bears or bunnies. I'm 37. I'm having a baby, I'm NOT a baby! Yeesh! I wouldn't even put my kid in something like that. At least the stuff in the department store gave me hope that I can find maternity clothes that won't make me look like a giant baby.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nasty Troll Slippers (Updated!)

And now that the cat is out of the bag, I can finally bitch with a clear conscience, knowing that I'm not giving away special news before the immediate family gets to find out via Skype. Now, we can get back to my usually bitchery that you all know and love so much. And with that, I present to you these nasty troll slippers...
These WERE nice slippers from some fancy hotel somewhere. My mom had rounded up a ton of these kinds of slippers from their travels and gave them to us for use. Because she gave us so many of them, we gave MIL a pair of them to wear when she's here. This is how they look now. I should add that none of the other slippers have wound up this grungy. Just the ones she wears.

How in the world does she get them so filthy? She wears socks while she's wearing them and they STILL get dirty inside! MY GOD! Does she just not wash her feet? She actually put these things in our laundry basket for me to wash. The one thing that woman doesn't wash herself! She'll wash one pair of Raelynn's socks by hand but she won't wash her own nasty slippers. Yeah, right on top of that one, Trollzilla. I'll have Hazmat swing by and pick them up when they come check out the insane air pollution over here.

I just wanted to add some photos of Raelynn's little slippers so you can see as a comparison to MIL's slippers. It truly adds to the mystery. How can my kid who makes a mess of everything have cleaner slippers? Does MIL walk out into the filthy stairway outside our door with them? I just have no idea. Check out Raelynn's slippers...

One with flash and the other without:

See?!? How in the world does MIL make everything so encrusted with disgustingness??? Raelynn apparently wonders the same thing...

Christmas In July

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! I've got a little present for you all that I have been waiting to share. If you're a family member or one of my friends, you've likely already seen my Facebook post. I'll let Raelynn do the honors...
Yes, baby Qu #2 is on the way, set to arrive in mid-July! Now you know why I had been neglecting the blog over most of December. I had to tell my brother and parents before I could say anything. How could I announce to them via Facebook or my megabitchy blog that I was pregnant again? Exactly. Though some of you were quite astute in noticing something I had said about being sensitive to smells in this post. Nice decoding!

In any event, I'm mostly excited, a little scared...I mean, I just KNOW I'm never going to sleep again, am I? And I wonder how I will be a great mommy when I have to split my attention between two children. Is it a boy or a girl? Will it be as cute and fun as Raelynn? Will they team up to make me go insane? Even worse, will my in-laws make me even more crazy than they already?

Stay tuned for all that and more!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I'll Be Homesick For Christmas

The last Christmas I spent at my parents' house in Florida was in 2008. Can you believe that? In 2009, we were all in Seoul visiting my brother Phillip, and despite being far from home, we were all together for a gorgeous white Christmas. I moved to Seoul myself in February of 2010, then to Qingdao, China in November 2010, so every Christmas since has been spent here.

Jeremy, Raelynn and I have managed to make our own little traditions revolving around our slightly pathetic little Christmas tree and I'm happy we can make special memories together. It will be Raelynn's 3rd Christmas this year and now she's old enough to know what's up. She was worried Santa wouldn't come and we've been lording it over her head so she'll be good. She's currently sound asleep this Christmas Eve, hopefully having sweet dreams.

And in our room, I'm missing my family and the traditions we had together when I lived in the states. Christmas at my parents' house is an amazing event. It begins whenever we roll out of bed to open gifts. Even the family dog, Tasha, knows Christmas is special and she's ready for the fun too. We enjoy mimosas and exchange presents, then Mom makes some insanely delicious things for breakfast. Florida is lovely at this time of year. The sun is warm but the air is cool and comfortable. Perfect for lounging by the pool. Drinks and a dip in the water. Small lunch to tide us over. Then Mom begins making an epic meal. I assist and we watch A Christmas Story over and over and over again on TNT, never tiring of it as we recite it verbatim. After a dinner that about makes us all pop, we lazily help Mom clean up and then one by one, pass out from our glorious food comas. Yes, Christmas at the Raskin house is something I miss dearly. I miss my stocking which, to my knowledge, they STILL hang up even though I'm not going to be there to see it. I miss all the Christmas decorations Mom adorns the home with. And most of all, I miss my folks. And Tasha.

I just saw my family a couple months ago in Shanghai. It was a great visit, but like all great visits, it just flew by. About a month ago, I Skyped with my folks and they'd told me they were sending us a package for Christmas. I thought it was incredibly sweet and figured there would be a gift for Raelynn and some chocolate. When it arrived and I opened it up, I was so touched by this package. I never expected them to go to such great detail. There were some clothes for Raelynn, a talking Dora doll, a Dora book, a Dora adventure phone and a variety of other little things for their only grandchild. And then there was the chocolate. Mom sent me so many of my favorite chocolatey treats I couldn't believe it. Things you can't find in China. AND some cans of artichoke hearts (they are insanely expensive here) and packets of Hollandaise sauce. To top it all off, they even included 2 whole rolls of Christmas wrapping paper and a small Scotch tape dispenser. Over the last few years, I've missed my folks during Christmas, but this year, I miss them even more. I wish we could be in the same place so that they could watch Raelynn open her gifts.

My husband of course understands this and has done everything to make me feel less homesick. He likes to hear about how my family celebrates Christmas. But he also likes to make our Christmas here as special as possible so that I feel less sad. My school is one of the few schools here to be closed on Christmas so I have the day off to spend with my beautiful Raelynn and to attempt to cook a meal even 1/4 as awesome as my Mom would make. Also, no MIL! Hooray! That might just be the best gift of all next to my 2 months of paid vacation that starts in January. I guess it's a very Merry Christmas after all!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ooh That Smell! Can't You Smell That Smell?!?

This morning while Jeremy played soccer in the subzero temperatures outdoors, I disinfected our kitchen further (click here to see why). He'd almost completely restored order to it and I would have been furious that he'd left more crap for me to clean up from his dolt of a mother, but he also made breakfast for Raelynn while he cleaned up so I let it slide. I was just enjoying the freshness and cleanliness of the kitchen, as well as our couple of other rooms, when my husband returned from his game. We buzzed around the house, talking Christmas, and decided it would be a fine time to head over to Metro to get all the crap I'd need to prepare for our feast on Christmas day. Since I had to work on Thanksgiving, I couldn't really go all out. But we have off for Christmas so it's a go.

As we were preparing to leave, Jeremy's phone rang. It was the trolls. They told him they had some mantou (that barfy, flavorless Chinese bread that I hate unless I dress it up with butter or fry it or use it as the base for a makeshift pizza) and fried fish for us. I could hear him telling them we were on our way to the supermarket but then I heard him telling them we'd come by. Ugh. Seriously?

Jeremy smiles that winning smile and declares we've got to stop over there before going shopping. "We'll just stay for 10 minutes," he promises. But I know he's lying. Not intentionally, mind you. I just know he wants to make me happy and leave quickly but it won't be like that. I couldn't possibly be that lucky.

I've mentioned before how much I hate going to my in-laws' house. I totally hate it there. It is so boring. THEY are so boring. Drinking is the only thing that makes it tolerable but I couldn't justify it on such a short visit when we weren't even staying for a meal.

But beyond that, one of the worst things about their home is the smell. It doesn't help that I have been extra sensitive to all smells good and bad lately. And their home has a bad smell. Very bad. Let me attempt to describe it so you understand why it's so unbearable. Close your eyes and imagine the smell of old dirty shoes with a bit of foot stink to them combined with greasy, oily fried fish smell mingling with old man soap that has been pickled. Yes, that sums it up. It smells just like that. And I can't get used to it the entire time I'm trapped in their lair.

And a place that is that smelly is definitely dirty. You've seen the kitchen there so just imagine the rest of the place. While it's certainly not as cluttered up as the kitchen, I noticed in one bedroom today, they had clothes piled in the chairs. I should mention that they HAVE a wardrobe in each of the 2 bedrooms AND they have a chest of drawers in there too. Sigh. What bothers me most about the filth there is the floors are so nasty that my daughter's socks were visibly grungy from running around in there. And her off-white jeans she wore today? She looked like she'd been rolling in the dirt outside when we left there.

In total, we endured 35 minutes of boredom where I was forced to eat a fucking luo bo and drink some tea (the tea I didn't mind) while Trollzilla herself insisted we stay longer so she could feed my kid some greasy fish crap and mantou. I know Raelynn is half Chinese but I cannot even fathom how she finds some of that shit to be edible. Of course, after this ordeal, it was now 1pm and we were running short on shopping time before Raelynn would throw a fit out of pure exhaustion and need for a nap. That need to sleep coupled with her idiot grandparents spoiling her in all the wrong ways is EXACTLY why my kid acted like a total brat at the store. I worked so hard with her over the summer to get her to behave and these two birdbrains messed it all up. I've got my work cut out for me this winter when I get to correct her behavior without them interfering and setting me back every single day while I potty train her. I can take her with me to my school next semester, which starts in March and I really want it to happen just because I don't want her to be stuck with my in-laws all the time. I definitely need a Christmas miracle here. Due to this torture, I hope my husband is aware that he now owes me some more jewelry. Or at the very least, a full-time maid.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Extreme Home Makeover: Disgusting Kitchen Edition

Holy hell. Has it really been a month since my last post? My apologies, it's been a little hectic and I promise I'll catch you all up on that soon.

For now, I'd like to tell (and show!) you all about my newly redesigned kitchen. Yes, that's right. I left for work this morning and it was clean and orderly. And when I came home this afternoon, this is how I found it:
Thank you, MIL! I don't even know where to begin with this. I suddenly have no counter space AT ALL on the right side of the kitchen. There is all kinds of random food and random crap on the left side. MIL has made another mountain of half-assedly-washed dishes on that side too but you can only see my white cutting board which still looks filthy.

Well, at least we know where she got her inspiration for this design. Don't you remember her own kitchen? Take a look again at this horrid filth that is MIL's kitchen. Dear Lord! At least when my husband came home and saw this disaster, he promised he'd clean it. I'm holding him to it, or he'll have to include some new jewelry for me under the Christmas tree.

If you like MIL's style, please contact me immediately. I can ship her over to you free of charge and then you too can have a stunningly sloppy pigsty for a kitchen too!