Friday, September 26, 2014

Step 2: Complete!

That didn't take long! Less than a week after receiving the approval letter, we were sent an email for how to complete the 2nd step for Jeremy's visa process.

For this step, we had to fill out an online form and then submit the confirmation page, along with a cover letter, 2 passport-size photos of Jeremy and a photocopy of his passport to a nearby bank that the US Embassy requested us to use.

It's a seemingly easy step. But we found it was much more complicated than that. The form is not hard to fill out but requiresSO much information. It's all in English, which is Jeremy's 3rd language. Still, he filled it out like a champ. I sat nearby in case he had any questions about what he was being asked. By far, the most tedious part was the previous address portion. Jeremy had to list every single address he has ever lived at since he was 16. Yes, really. As he filled this out, I hoped that no one would ask me all the places I've lived since 16. There were SO many dorm addresses and apartments during my college years that I'm sure I'd miss something.

It took him a very long time to complete the form. By the end, we were laughing though. They ask some interesting questions, like if you plan on partaking in polygamy and stuff like that. Once he finished the form, we were relieved. Now he's sending the documents through the bank the embassy requested us to use and when he gets back, we can celebrate Step 2 being behind us.

What's next? Step 3, which will involve us rounding up a lot of documents and scheduling Jeremy's visa interview. Please keep sending good vibes our way and stay tuned for our visa progress.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Parents Are More Awesome Than Yours

Whoever said that the best things come in small packages obviously never received a package from my folks.

It wasn't too long ago that we had the lazy postal worker that complained about having to deliver the package to our home. And then thankfully before my husband could pick it up, a non-lazy postal worker didn't balk at doing his job.

Mom is amazing and yet again went to all this trouble to send us yummy treats from America. You can't fully understand how special it is to get care packages until you move abroad. I can't even begin to thank my parents for being so totally awesome.

Before Jeremy left for Guangzhou to go get Seoul's US passport, he called around the area post offices, trying to track down the package. My mom had said it had been 3 weeks. Surely it must be here by now. Mail here is insanely slow but I still hoped it would be here. Next week is China's National Holiday and the post office is closed all week. I was worried I would have to wait until after the holiday.

A few phone calls later, Jeremy finds out that the package is down in Shanghai, clearing Customs. There are no direct flights from the US to Qingdao so this makes sense. It probably flew on the same route my parents take when they come to China for visits. Anyway, they tell him they will let him know when it's here.

Very late last night, Jeremy came back from Guangzhou. He successfully picked up Seoul's passport and her CRBA (Consular Report of a Birth Abroad) certificate. He also picked me out a new coat, scarf and a shirt-dress that by the grace of God mostly fit. It's my boobs. I'm a breastfeeding mommy and I can't help it. A pair of leggings and a tank top underneath should help do the trick though.

I couldn't sleep until I knew he was home safe. Once he was, it was Snoozeville for me. But around 4am, I had some difficulties with Seoul going back to sleep. And by 7am, I was still not very well-rested. At 9am though, I got a break. Seoul was ready for a morning nap. When I put her to sleep, I went to sleep myself.

Apparently, during this time, I slept so soundly that I didn't even hear Jeremy leave. Or come back for that matter. I awoke an hour later feeling as though just 5 minutes had passed. Jeremy sat at his desk working. Seoul had woken up and I was nursing her. As I lay there with the baby, I told Jeremy how I wished they would deliver our package. "Mmm hmm," he says, not looking up from his work. When Seoul is done, I get up and it honestly takes me a while to register that there is a very large box in our living room. THE PACKAGE!

"When did this get here?!?" I shout excitedly. Jeremy's busy laughing his ass off. He can't believe I didn't notice the package for a good 10 minutes while I'd stood there talking to him.

Of course, I'm sure it didn't look like this when Mom sent it off...
 I hope nothing fell out. The package was filled to the brim with stuff though so I think everything was in there. I wonder if Customs ripped this open. That would explain some of the mess.

This was basically how the inside looked. Gobs and gobs of things from candy bars to spices to taco kits to fruit snacks for Raelynn. My Swiss Cake Rolls! And donuts. TONS of donuts. There were also those cocktails in a bag that you freeze to get an alcohol slushie. Yes please!

I'm so excited about the spices. Non-Chinese spices are really expensive here. I'm equally as stoked about the parmesan cheese. They sell it here but in a teeny-tiny container for 35 rmb. That's pretty expensive for such a small amount. I would have taken more care with taking photos of everything if not for my worry that if I didn't clean this up before Raelynn came back from playing with her grandparents, I'd never be able to get her away from the candies and sweets. That's all I need is for her to eat ALL the Milky Ways!

One bag of donuts had exploded on the voyage. Or when Customs attacked it. Not sure which but we were able to salvage some of it.
There was also one of those boxes of Entenmann's donuts that had taken a beating on the journey. One side of the box was torn. So we've started with the opened donuts and have made eating them a priority. Ok, I'm trying not to eat too many donut bits because I don't want to look like a cow when I go back to work soon. But man are they good! Still, I don't want the school children asking me if there's another baby in there. No, no there isn't. But hey, now you get this extra pile of homework. Bwahahahahahaha! Thankfully, I don't look pregnant at all anymore but if I eat all the donuts myself, I definitely will.

For this fabulous package, and making me feel less homesick, and for everything they do for me, that is exactly why my parents are way awesomer than yours. Thanks Mom and Daddy! We love you!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Powdered Husband

This morning after Raelynn left for the park with MIL (who has gotten over being angry at her son for no reason), Jeremy and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. He'll be hanging around the house today because he's leaving for Guangzhou tomorrow. While he's still home and before I am stuck with 2 children under the age of 5 all by myself (with some cooking interruptions from MIL of course), I thought I'd ask him to help me with a few things.

One of those things was refilling the baby powder bottle.

See, here in China, they mostly sell baby powder in tubs, like this:
Do they do this in the US? Or in any other Western country? Please, tell me if they do because when I left America, I did not have kids and therefore was not purchasing baby powder.

I hate these tubs because they come with a little powder puff, like the kind you'd get when you buy face powder make-up. You're supposed to use the puff and dab it into a big bowl of powder, which you hope you don't tip over and spill everywhere while you try to powder up your wriggling baby's buns. It's really the stupidest product design I've ever seen. I'm astonished this exists.

This bottle design makes much more sense. These are much harder to find over here. In fact, we were overjoyed to find it because we'd been stuck buying the tubs of powder for a while.

But now it was empty and we of course couldn't find another bottle. So, we kept this one and bought a tub of powder. The idea was to pour the powder from the tub into the bottle. The twist top is difficult to remove so I asked Jeremy if he'd mind helping me.

He set right to work and I lay on our bed nursing a very sleepy Seoul who ate and slept through this whole thing.

Suddenly, I hear a muffled pop. And then a cascade of powder rains down upon our room. Most of it on my husband.

Hahaha! Oh my poor sweet Jeremy! At least he was just as amused as I was. And now he smells lovely. Hey, it's better than baby spit-up, right?

What's extra funny about this is that while he was working on this little project, I was telling him an interesting anecdote from my childhood. When I was a little girl around Raelynn's age or perhaps just a wee bit older, I woke in the middle of the night and took the baby powder and powdered my whole room. I remember doing it too. I don't know what possessed me to do it. I just clearly remember waking up, taking the powder and dousing my whole room with it.

What I did not know at the time of the powdering was that my older brother, Phillip, had apparently done the very same thing when he was little. Except he also powdered our dachshund, Snoopy. Poor Snoopy.

Raelynn's only taken the tubs of powder and powdered her hands and face, like a Chinese opera star. I should have photographed that but I was more concerned that she'd taken a chair and used it to climb up to the shelf that the powder had been on. Oh they grow up way too fast!

It's Beginning...

I can't contain my excitement so I simply must post about this. Today, when we came home from church, there was a letter addressed to Jeremy on the door. His name and address were all written in Chinese but the envelope had some English printed on it at the bottom that said U.S. Consulate General along with the Guangzhou address.

We just went to Guangzhou a few weeks ago and filed for Seoul's US Citizenship along with Jeremy's immigrant visa. They had emailed us late last week to tell us Seoul's passport was now ready for pickup, and Jeremy's booked a flight out on Tuesday night so he can go pick it up on Wednesday. It's just easier for him to go solo as one of us parents must pick up her passport. We could have a third party do it but we don't know anyone in Guangzhou and we fear if we hire someone, they could be shifty and steal it or lose it. Or charge even more than the flight there and back costs. A train ride takes 30 hours one way and costs only a little less, so my husband decided flying was the easiest. Will he enjoy the peace and quiet of being away from his 2 noisy children? I'll let you know. In the meantime, send some good vibes for his safe trip there and back home to us, won't you?

Ok, I'll quit stalling. I know you're wondering what was inside the envelope, aren't you? It was a letter. More specifically, THIS letter...
Did you see that? We've been approved! APPROVED! They approved us just the day after we filed! We are so happy right now. We cried because we were so happy. Of course, this doesn't mean we get to pack up all our shit and move out of this place right now. No, no, no. This just means we're approved to begin the immigrant visa process for Jeremy. Thankfully, I have a good friend at work who is also currently processing his wife's immigrant visa and he's just a step ahead of me so having someone I can talk to about what's happening and what forms and documents are needed is a huge help. It makes it seem less of a daunting task.

But this will all be worth it soon enough if we can make it through the whole process and get approved. Every day I'm praying for it. I just want to take my girls and my husband home to the most beautiful land I know...America!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Oh Please!

 One of my best friends/former co-workers always said this and I think it applies perfectly to MIL. And FIL too.

This morning, I officially had it. And I think my husband has too.

Last night after dinner, while I was busy nursing Seoul and putting her to bed, Jeremy was cleaning up in the kitchen with his mother. As they cleaned, he spoke to her about doing a better job cleaning up and not leaving such a mess. He also asked her to not make so much food and to please use the meats and vegetables we have in our kitchen instead of bringing all of her stuff. It was Thursday night and on Fridays, she doesn't come to cook her barfy slop for us. My husband said he was simply speaking to her and not yelling about this. She brings over all this food we never asked her to bring and he likes to keep his promise to me about us eating my kinds of foods on the weekend.

You'd think in a mixed family like ours, his parents would at least try to eat some Western food or learn some American customs and traditions. But no. It all has to be me trying to fit into their culture. And my husband now sees how terribly unfair it is to me, and our children who are now both US citizens as well. He sees that I'm always the one to make a compromise while his parents push and push and push, crossing over any line of boundaries we ever set. 

MIL must be forgetting that if she fucks with us, she won't see her grandkids because she pulled some big bullshit today after my husband had spoken to her about his concerns. Instead of listening to him, you know what she does? She refuses to come up in the morning to get Raelynn for the mountain park and instead, sends FIL. Oh goodie.

That's how I found out about Jeremy's conversation with his mother. Because as I lay there nursing Seoul at about 8:30 this morning, Jeremy comes into our bedroom and sits down in my desk chair with a huff. He looks annoyed and very sad. After 4 years of marriage, I know his faces. All of them. And I hate to see this one.

He doesn't even want to leave for work yet because he doesn't want to speak to his father anymore. Apparently, FIL came in and instantly gave Jeremy a hard time about his talk with his mother. Let me clarify that he TALKED to her. There was no shouting. I would have certainly heard that in our bedroom while I got the baby to go to sleep. Yes, he talked to her about not making so much food, please use our meats and vegetables and to help clean up better and she got upset about THAT. She chooses THAT to flip out about instead of when I shrieked at her the other day.

I told you she's a manipulative cow. She's sulking until she gets her way and my husband now sees it all very clearly. Instead of having the effect she wants it to have, he just can't wait for us to move away. You know, those 2 idiots better be nicer to Jeremy. He doesn't have to take care of them as they age even further. In fact, after this, I hope he lets them rot. I hate when they treat him badly. My husband somehow turned out well despite having them as parents. Perhaps because he spent 10 years of his life living away from them, between going to college in China and traveling around on his soccer team to living in Korea. He always tells me he was so happy during that time because he was away from them. Jeremy is a smart and wonderful person but his parents never see this. Maybe it's the Asian way, but they are constantly pushing him down even when he has success. His insurance job? Oh that's worse than being a beggar, they tell him. They never praise him for the things he's accomplished in his life. And of course, when he has a failure, as all of us do from time to time, they shove that right in his face.

Now my husband feels bad about himself and is sitting in my chair, staring out the window. He needs to get going and start his day but he doesn't want to encounter his father again, who is inexplicably taking his sweet fucking time getting Raelynn off to the park. I tell Jeremy I'll shoo him away. FIL doesn't like to talk to me too much.

When I emerge from our room, I see he's already taken out ALL of her toys and now we've got blocks all over the fucking living room floor like some sort of obstacle course. He knows I hate this so I bet he's done this on purpose. Asshole. I see Raelynn's got her shoes on so I try to focus on getting her excited to leave so he'll follow suit. But he keeps insisting she needs to drink tea. She has a thermos full of water. Give that to her. No, no. He treats me like I'm some horrible mother because I won't give my daughter tea to drink. He then takes forever to make tea and pour it into 2 different metal rice bowls. Because why give her a cup to drink out of like a person? No, let's drink out of bowls like dogs. How Chinese. He then decides she needs to eat another egg. OH. MY. GOD. Just take my kid out to the park and go. We agreed on this arrangement so you could spend time with Raelynn and so that I could have a break in the morning and now I have to clean up after this jackass instead of relax. I'm ready to kill him. Finally, he leaves and Jeremy is happy again. He can leave without having to endure more bullshit from his dad.

I'm seriously sick of these 2 idiots. Some might argue they help us. Yes, they do. But then they jump in and help with things we didn't ask them to help with and then they try to control everything and yell at my husband when he nicely asks them to please stop. It's insane. I would love it if they never came over anymore. Seriously. LOVE IT. Hire a nanny to watch Seoul and take Raelynn to school with me and watch her behavior problems that they caused disappear again. It would be so lovely.

But of course, we're stuck enduring these nimrods for a little while longer at least. Hopefully not too much longer. My husband will forgive this incident but he won't forget it. He's got one foot out the door with me and our 2 beautiful daughters on his arm.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Oh, The Irony!

As a wife and mother, I absolutely adore watching my husband interact with our children.

Like today for example. While I was hanging up our laundry to dry, Jeremy was laying on the bed with a cooing Seoul sitting on his chest. I smiled as I hung up our freshly-washed clothes, watching Jeremy play with our 2nd daughter, and watching him fall more and more in love with her. It was a very sweet sight.

And a sweet sound. He was talking to her as she cooed at him.
"P.U.! You're so chou!" he said.

"Chou" is Chinese for "smell" by the way. In case you were wondering. We often mix our languages in the sentences we speak. It's just how we roll.

Anyway, he continues gabbing away:
"You smell like milk. No, more like cheese. You know, I love dairy products."

My back was turned toward them at this time, so imagine my surprise and amusement when I hear a vurp-like sound of regurgitation, followed by an "Aughhhhhhhhhhhh!" I drop the clothes I was about the hang up and whirl around to discover that Seoul, who is a most kind, sweet and apparently generous baby, has decided to share her dairy products with her daddy who has just proclaimed his love for them by spitting up some of it. It almost landed in his mouth. Almost.

Isn't it ironic? Dontcha think? Ha!

I hurry and grab wet wipes from the counter so I can mop up the curdled milk globs from Jeremy's chin. And of course, I'm laughing away, pointing out the irony of the situation to him. "I love dairy products," I mimic and even he can't stop laughing.

Though I can't help but wonder how my husband feels about dairy products now.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of the incident but here's a couple of Jeremy and Seoul being cute together.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Get To Your Place

When I was a little girl, we had a dachshund named Snoopy. Actually, my dad will tell you his real name was Maximallian or some crap like that but my brother, Phillip, influenced the change to Snoopy. He was a great dog. He even saved me from the neighbor's evil doberman when it'd gotten loose. But even great dogs are sometimes naughty. And when Snoopy was a bad dog, we always told him to "get to your place!" Or "GET!" for short. I need to start saying this to MIL.

If you remember the giant blowout at the end of last week, then you'll know that to avoid any further altercations, I've been requested to pick out Raelynn's outfits the night before her outings with the invalids. Which I did. But of course, MIL went back on her word. Last night, it was muggy when I picked out the clothes. I picked a Hello Kitty t-shirt and pink shorts. Well, apparently this wasn't warm enough attire for this morning. She put her in a pink polo shirt and black polka dot pants. It actually looked okay enough, I suppose, though I have always kind of despised polka dots. But these pants I didn't mind because the dots are quite small and the style of the pants is actually more akin to leggings. In colder weather, I always pair them with a red, black and white ladybug dress that's become a bit too short but with these leggings-like pants, looks fabulous.

I'm not angry with MIL because the weather changed. I'm angry because that old bag, despite changing her into this other outfit, bought Raelynn even more pants. More polka dot pants! 2 of the same pair! And they're not any thicker or better than the 20 other pairs of fucking pants this child has.

Of course MIL thinks this shit will go with everyfuckingthing. She's ALWAYS wearing her vomitous polka dot pants. I have photos of her wearing them in this post, if you want to see.

Polka dots are not my style, but when done right, or paired with the right things, they can look really smart. MIL just throws polka dots with anything she sees. Or flowers.

I complained to Jeremy who was as aggravated as I was. He actually told someone at church yesterday that he couldn't wait to move away from his parents because they interfere in everything we ever do and contribute to Raelynn's bad behavior all the time. I hope we can escape before Seoul gets too big to be influenced by those neanderthals.

Speaking of Seoul, all her clothes are hand-me-downs (except for one thing my friend Natalie sent - thanks again, girl! xoxo) and all the pants she has available to her as the weather starts cooling down are bigger. Why didn't MIL buy her some pants? No, she HAS TO buy more pants for Raelynn because a closet full of them is just not enough. She has to constantly butt in and push our limits. You're not the boss of us, bitch. Watch your fat, old ass.

I'm angry that my husband specifically told his parents not to do something and they deliberately disregarded it. And that we came to an agreement about having me pick out Raelynn's outfits in advance and she just pushes and manipulates until she gets her way. I asked Jeremy if he could help me make a sign in Chinese that says "Get the fuck out of this closet and go fuck yourself," but he wouldn't let me. He didn't get mad like he usually does when I suggest these things though so I'm thinking he was quite tempted to put the sign up himself. He DID do that to a big refrigerator box someone left in our stairwell for a week though. Like the bike that took up space, it sat there on the landing between our floor (6th) and the 5th floor. A closer look at the box would reveal it had been for apartment 801. So those lazy assholes just dragged it down a few floors and left it. I can't be sure exactly what he wrote on there but I hope he dropped a few Chinese f-bombs in there. When the box still hadn't moved, he kicked the crap out of it and launched it down to the 5th floor landing, spilling out packing foam all over the stairs. That finally did the trick because when we came back, the box, the foam and the angry Chinese note from my husband were all gone.

I was really agitated by all this earlier this morning, but Jeremy reminded me that soon, Raelynn and I will go back to school and MIL won't be able to dress her like a street person anymore. We'll just have to worry about Seoul. And he's given his word that if his parents do not keep things sanitary and put her in any danger, that he will do something about it. I hope so because if not, I'll have to maim them with my bare hands. Or use these pants and the other fugly shit she's ever bought to tie them up and kick them down the stairs as I yell "GET!!!!"

Saturday, September 13, 2014

When Toddlers Strike: The Tea Party

This will be a quick one since I was just punished for my good deed of the night - running to Raelynn's rescue to help her locate her stuffed elephant so she could go back to sleep - by pulling something in my lower back. Good times. Good times.

Anyway, this afternoon, when Seoul had awoken from a nap, I went to nurse her. I had told Raelynn just before to pick up her toys she'd arranged all over our living room. I'd warned her that her daddy would be back soon and he'd be unhappy if it was messy. I promised her a glass of milk for a job well done and told her I'd check after I fed the baby.

I could hear her in the living room while I was feeding Seoul and it sounded like she was cleaning up. Apparently, she was up to something else though...more wanton destruction from the looks of it:
No, that's not marijuana. That's very expensive green tea. She has loaded my entire Miami Dolphins cup full of it. For the record, I had some tea in the bottom, but of course not THIS much.

Here's a closer look...that's one hell of a tea party, no?

She also had attempted to clean it up. I guess that's why I thought all the sounds she was making were normal...because she actually WAS cleaning.

Jeremy was a bit less amused because this brand of green tea is very expensive. It's 100 rmb for a package. Of course she shouldn't have done this and of course she should be punished (I sent her to her room) but my dear husband forgets that his own mother uses too much tea when she makes cups of tea. Certainly not THIS much, but she uses a ton of it unnecessarily. Check out this post with photographic evidence of her wasting the 100 rmb tea.

And here's the tea-wasting bandit who has hopefully learned her lesson. But just in case, we've moved the tea to a safer location, far out of reach of our destructive toddler. 


I bitch a lot on this blog. A LOT. Hell, that's why I created it in the first place. But have you ever wondered exactly what happens when I completely snap and lose it? Many of my friends tell me I have the patience of a saint for enduring MIL. I really, really try to be polite and cordial as best I can, but this morning, I absolutely flipped my shit on her. Right in front of Jeremy too.

Every weekday while I've been on maternity leave, my in-laws have come in the morning to take Raelynn to play at the mountain park near our home. It's nice for them to spend time together though my husband and I recently discovered how much their lack of common sense really does affect our daughter. Well, HE discovered. I already figured that one out but hey, I get that he wants to believe the best about his parents.

In addition to their spending time together, it allows me time to spend with just Seoul, or to get some extra rest when I get Seoul back to sleep. Each day, MIL dresses Raelynn though, which pisses me off. Raelynn used to pick her stuff out herself and one of us would help her get dressed. Well, the old troll decided to take over letting my daughter pick from her lovely threads because she has been picking her the same kind of shit each day. Like these crappy light-weight pants that MIL of course bought her. There's nothing too horrible about them, when paired with the right top, but MIL will not bother to match it. So when Raelynn does come home, I find her dressed like a mini-MIL and I want to kill. Also, it's still warm out! Why aren't you dressing her in skirts? Or shorts? Or dresses? I get that you're going to a park and you don't need to put her in formal wear but for fuck's sake, choose something appropriate for warmer weather! If I didn't throw her clothes in the laundry basket each night, that old goat would dress her in the same garments every day. I shudder to think if she were able to get into our room and rifle through our dirty things. You know she's done that before just to poorly hand-wash something she's given Raelynn. Cow.

Anyway, I got sick and tired of her not choosing something other than those light-weight pants she bought for Raelynn. So I took them out of the closet and put them in our room. I told Jeremy I did this too because I wanted Raelynn to enjoy wearing her warm weather clothes for the next week or two before she's unable to. Most of these things will be too small on her next year. Why did we buy them? So they could sit in the closet collecting dust while MIL puts her in the same 5 outfits each week? That's so stupid. Especially when that old bat bought her a skirt and a dress that aren't completely unfortunate-looking. Why buy those things and then ignore them every time you go into your grandchild's closet to dress her?!?

Fast forward to this morning. Seoul was making me insane and had been since about 4am. No clue why. At least she was smiling at me when she was doing it though. I think she just wanted to hang, you know? Jeremy had moved to Raelynn's room at some point in the night. I vaguely remember her bursting into our room, crying loudly and he rushed off with her to keep her from waking the baby. It was his way of making it up to me for making too much noise when I was putting Seoul to sleep earlier in the evening, causing me to have to work my ass off for nearly 2 hours to get her to go back down without waking right back up. While he and Raelynn got good sleep, I was busy trying to get to that point with Seoul. No such luck for me. Brief spurts of sleep were all I was able to get. At about 7:30am, Jeremy comes into our room and finds me sleepily rocking Seoul. He asks where I've put the pants. I protest and he snappily tells me it's cooler outside today so Raelynn needs to wear pants. I show him where the confiscated pants are and hand him a pair in black. He leaves.

Seoul has now fallen asleep and I'm thrilled. I'm about to put her down when he comes in, screaming at me. "Where are the thicker pants?!? These are too thin!" Now, the baby is startled completely awake and I'm ready to kill. He's scared her with his screaming and what's worse, is that it's his stupid mother's fault. I'll tell you why...because, front and center in Raelynn closet are - get this - all kinds of pants. Jeans. Cords. You name it. They're all there. In a big stack, because this closet consists of 2 long and deep shelves and there is no choice but to stack things in piles. The thinner pants had been in the middle of this stack until I took them away yesterday. So this fucking idiot woman now can't find the pants she'd deliberately sift through and blissfully ignore to rummage out her vile culottes. My husband was yelling at me. The baby was screaming and this stupid buck-toothed zombie can't even manage to dress my toddler for their outing because she's too senseless to check the rest of the clothes that, up until her arrival, had been neatly arranged in the closet in their respective piles, all folded lovingly by me, for just such a purpose.

And that's when I totally lost it. I screamed at my husband and his fatheaded mother. Mostly at her. I basically told him to shut the fuck up and thanks for waking the baby who I'd spent all that time trying to get to sleep so he could wake it up shouting about pants that were right in his braindead mother's face the whole bloody time. Then, I turned to the head troll herself and unleashed all my rage from the last couple days. Stuff I hadn't yet had the chance to write about - how she either didn't wash the dishes with hot water and sanitize them properly or served us unclean food, causing Jeremy and I have to have stomach aches (Jeremy also wound up with diarrhea) and poor Raelynn to throw up yesterday. How she then, after Raelynn threw up, took her for yogurt AND ice cream. Because! She's THAT stupid. And I went on and on and on, shouting at her and telling her to go fuck herself. I only regret shouting in front of the children, especially Raelynn since she repeats everything now, but in all fairness, Jeremy's newfound love of Pulp Fiction causes him to recite lines with worse strings of curse words, so we're both guilty here.

After I let that all out, I stormed into our room again and went back to work trying to get Seoul to sleep. I could faintly hear Jeremy yelling at his mother over the hissing sounds of the white noise app on my phone. I started to feel bad. Not about telling MIL off, but about being that mean to her in front of Raelynn. I don't have to like this woman but that's my children's grandmother, dumb as she is. And I thought about my husband and how he'd come bursting in at any minute to tell me off for shouting at his mother.

A bit of time passed and I finally got Seoul to sleep again. I waited extra just to be sure. As I was standing up, getting ready to head into the living room, I saw Jeremy's silhouette through the frosted glass on our bedroom door. I braced myself for a lecture. But instead, I got an apology...for waking the baby, for his mother not having enough sense to check the closet for the jeans that were right in her face, for her messing up the closet yet again (because I organize it every time I put the laundry back and am forever complaining about this and now he knows WHY - because she tears it up like a dog burying a bone) and for our house being too small. And I apologize for yelling.

Jeremy tells me from now on, whenever Raelynn has an outing with the idiots, I should lay out an outfit the night before so that way, there are no problems with Dumbo there fucking up the closet and whining she can't find shit that's right in her big dumb face and so I don't lose my mind again. I think my husband wasn't mad at me because I'd been telling him lately, quite calmly and politely I might add, that his mother was getting on my nerves with all sorts of things and that I was teetering on the edge. From the clothes, to the food she'd cook, to her telling Raelynn loudly in Chinese to go tell me to give her the baby when I was busy FEEDING the baby...SO many things! Oh! And last night, she half-assedly washed her hands so she could hold the baby. I protested that she didn't wash well enough and she grabbed her from me. Thankfully, Jeremy intervened and told her, NO. You did not wash your hands properly. Go back and wash them again. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. This is the person that will be watching the baby when Raelynn and I go back to school. How lovely. More reason to despise her. 

Now I feel much better since all that fury exploded out of me. Of course, it is the weekend which means no in-law interactions. I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Attack Of The Socially Awkward Woman

This past weekend, Jeremy and I celebrated our 4-year anniversary. We had enjoyed a nice lunch, even with our toddler and infant present. After our lunch, as we were leaving the restaurant, Jeremy asked one of the employees there if she'd mind taking a family photo for us. Of course, she was happy to oblige. While Jeremy was asking her, Raelynn and I were exiting the restaurant. It's inside a very high-end but very dead mall. There are a few very expensive stores, a Starbucks and a play place. It amazes me that it still opens each day.

Just outside the entrance to the restaurant, there was a big red Chinese display, perfect for a photo opp. I put this photo in the last post but here it is again, in case you're too lazy to look...

You may or may not have noticed that in this photo, Raelynn seems highly agitated. That's because she is. See, she was tired from our busy day already. But as we were walking out of the restaurant, a Chinese family consisting of a mom, dad and a little boy, probably around Raelynn's age, were about to walk out the doors of the mall. The woman spotted Raelynn and me. She then began jabbering like an idiot in Chinese, grabbing her giant smart phone and poising it in photo-taking position and began approaching Raelynn with rapid speed. Raelynn became frightened so she ran from her and this stupid woman kept chasing her.

As this is going on, I'm telling this woman, in her own language no less, to stop. But she ignores me and keeps pestering my poor daughter, who is now running in circles around that red display in the photo you see just to get away from her. I'm also trying to catch Raelynn myself so I can take her away from this moron but it's hard for me to go fast thanks to my new sandals I bought in Guangzhou and Seoul, who is sleeping in the carrier. But despite these obstacles, there's no way in hell that I'm letting that lady get a photo of my child after she scared her. Now this woman's son gets in on the chase, following his mom's lead. They seem to think this is hilarious so now I begin shouting quite loudly and angrily at her in English this time. It finally gets her attention. She's laughing until she sees the look on my face. Which tells her I'm going to kill her if she doesn't get out of my sight now. And she finally figures it out that I don't want her scaring the shit out of my child just so she can get a photo and show her idiot friends that she saw a mixed-race child today. She quickly shrinks away, taking her son with her.

This is the kind of shit I have to put up with here all the time. I hate it. Chinese people love to brag and show off. They'll snap photos of foreigners like me and tell their Chinese friends that I'm a friend when I don't even know those people. They do it to us all. And they love to snap photos of our children too. Not all people are as socially inept as that stupid woman though. Some people actually come up and say hello and talk to us first. We're always happy to let polite people take photos of or with us. But people like that woman can walk their shitty asses into oncoming traffic.

Oh and to further illustrate what a chode that woman was, my husband told me that as she was leaving, he spoke to her and she said her son started chasing our daughter first. That's right...she blamed her own child. No, asshat. YOU started chasing my poor child and your son copied your behavior. What a bright future that kid will have with you as his mother. After the photo was taken, we walked right out of the mall. That woman and her family must have run as fast as they could because they were long gone. Good. You have to be a complete dumbass when you scare someone's child just for a photo of them without asking the parent's permission. Or not even picking up on the fact that you are scaring someone's child.

Does this happen anywhere else or is it just in the socially awkward country known as China? Let me know in the comments if you've experienced this here in China or elsewhere in the world.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Mooncake-iversary To Us!

This year, Jeremy and I are celebrating 4 years of marriage. It's really gone by so quickly. It seems like just yesterday, we walked into the US Embassy in Seoul on September 8, 2010 and got married. And now, we suddenly have 2 precious daughters. Wasn't it Ferris Bueller who said, "Life moves pretty fast? If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." I just Googled it. I was right. Yeah. It moves pretty fucking fast all right.

Anyway, for our previous anniversaries, Jeremy and I would usually go out sans Raelynn, much like we did last year. But this year, my husband had some bad news for me...the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, the one with all the mooncakes, fell right smack on top of our anniversary this year. You know what that means, don't you? Because it was a Chinese holiday, it meant we HAD TO spend it with his parents. Sigh. My worst nightmare and there was nothing either of us could do. Stupid harvest moon! Damn you!

So to make it up to me, Jeremy made sure we enjoyed Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, we uncorked a bottle of wine from Spain that we'd been waiting to drink since the beginning of my pregnancy with Seoul. God, it was good. I also cooked for us, using stuff we'd just bought at the supermarket. We actually went back to Metro, if you can believe it. They've opened it back up to family memberships again. Plus, Jeremy hates going to the Aeon now. We like the Aeon itself just fine but it's a pain in the ass to go on weekends, which is usually when my husband has the time to take us, because the parking garage is for the supermarket AND the adjoining mall. It's a zoo in there and trying to park the car is an ordeal. Metro changed their bathroom too. Did they read my post about their nasty bathroom? Or did enough people complain?

Well, as it turns out, they fixed up the whole store. From the bathroom, which no longer stunk of rotting sewage, to all the aisles of food. They'd even added lights behind the shelving to make the aisles seem less drab. There were also tons more imports to choose from and they already had one of the best import selections here. And they were having sales on EVERYTHING. The cereal we like was only 13 rmb at Metro compared with 22 rmb at Aeon.

As unromantic as it sounds to go to the supermarket, we made it more so by picking out even more nice bottles of wine to enjoy together. And Raelynn gave us the gift of good behavior as she sat in the cart and didn't cause any problems. Seoul, ever the good baby, just slept through the whole shopping adventure.

On Sunday after church, we were trying to decide where to eat for our anniversary. It didn't seem fair for me to pick - it is OUR day, not MY day only like my birthday. So we sat in the car, each suggesting places. Neither one of us was thrilled with anything either of us came up with until we thought about Teppanyaki, an all-you-can-eat Japanese hibachi place that we could actually walk to from where our car was already parked.

We hadn't been in a while...not since my parents had visited the year before last. The food was good but the service was lackluster as usual. One thing that they always do to you there is when you order something, they don't bring it. This happens every single time we go and it's really annoying. Sure, you're paying one amount for an all-inclusive meal (including the alcohol of your choice and as much of it as you want) but it still sucks when you order tempura shrimp and they NEVER bring it no matter how many times you ask about it. They just keep bringing you everything else, hoping you forget about it. Why? I've no earthly clue, especially since they'd bring the peel and eat shrimp faster than you can actually say "peel and eat shrimp."

My parents will come in February and my dad has expressed interest in going there. I'm not sure we can because of the Chinese New Year. It may actually be closed. But I'm also not sure if we SHOULD go as Jeremy got the runs after that. Somehow, I was spared. Maybe because I was drinking all-you-can-drink sake. Jeremy couldn't drink because he drove so I didn't even drink that much so he wouldn't feel left out. Maybe the bit that I did drink helped kill any germs.

Once home, I made a grisly discovery. My computer just randomly decided to lock me out of my desktop. It was fine the night before when I shutdown. I tried and tried to get my computer going but it just wouldn't work. My husband dropped everything to try to fix it. When he couldn't, he called his computer friend who was able to fix it quite quickly and easily the next morning. What a wonderful anniversary present - a husband who will move mountains to help his wife. 

On our actual anniversary, we enjoyed the beginning of our day without my husband's parents, but at 3:30pm, they came over. I used it as an opportunity to nap while FIL played with Raelynn and the baby slept soundly. When I awoke, MIL had crabs steamed up for us. No one had to tell me that - I could smell them in our room. Yum!
FIL cracks open the crabs.


 You can also see there's a corn xifan AND a big bowl of soup with scary chicken pieces in it. I swear there is no art to butchering animals for food over here. They chop it into the most unpleasant pieces. Rubbery skin, anyone? She put bok choy and some shrimp in it though so it wasn't too bad but I was so not eating that chicken in there. There's also cucumbers with garlic sauce AND there's a bowl next to the giant soup bowl filled with eggplant with garlic sauce. And of course, you can't celebrate this holiday without mooncakes. There they are at the front of the table. She got the weirdest flavors this year. One was filled with hard spheres of sugar and the other had sunflower seeds in it. So random. Oh yes, and on holidays, you simply MUST imbibe! Of course I didn't need anyone to talk me into it. I was ready to drink. I MUST drink in their company for it makes me want to strangle them much less. Those small cups you see are filled with baijiu. This particular one was very potent. I felt like I could set my breath on fire after drinking it.

And of course, with a Chinese holiday, you simply MUST serve up a side of horrible Chinese music shows. At quick glance, you might think this was Kelly Osbourne. I did for like a teensy second. Love the hair.

 Ah, crappy Chinese TV specials! No Chinese holiday is complete without them!

And now, I'll end on a sweet note...Happy 4th Anniversary to my sweet Jeremy. I love you so very much and I cannot wait to see what each year into our future brings! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hello Guangzhou!

I was really looking forward to our trip to Guangzhou. For one, we hadn't been anywhere since last October when we went to Shanghai to meet up with my family. For another, this was the first trip for all 4 of us together as a family. Plus, we were not only applying for Seoul's US citizenship, but we were also filing the paperwork to begin processing Jeremy's immigrant visa. This trip was important on so many levels.

Jeremy had been to Guangzhou before when he played soccer in college but this was my first visit. I am always excited to see a new city. Sure, I love Shanghai, but we've been there 3 times. I mostly hated Beijing except for the food and the Great Wall. I was quite eager to discover how I'd feel about Guangzhou.

Last year, Raelynn was a bit difficult on the airplane, but she was smaller then and the flight was only 1 hour so it wasn't too that bad in the grand scheme of things. Guangzhou is about a 3 hour flight from Qingdao. And now, there were 4 of us instead of just 3. Because I'm breastfeeding the baby, I was in charge of Seoul during the flights and Jeremy was in charge of Raelynn.

So how were the children on the plane? Jeremy looked like he wished he had boobs full of milk instead so he could handle Seoul. She was an absolute angel on the plane. She spent the entire trip either nursing or sleeping. She was so chill. Totally opposite of Raelynn.

The problem started with the airplane being delayed. Thanks, Shandong Airlines. I know I said I would never fly them again but I had no choice. Jeremy booked the tickets and they were significantly cheaper than the other airlines. Because the embassy only allows the appointment calendars for each month to open up 2 weeks before, we essentially were booking these tickets at the last minute. That meant that Jeremy, Raelynn and I paid 900 rmb each for ONE WAY. The baby's ticket was wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy less because she's a tiny baby of course.

Our flight was an early evening flight that should have arrived around 8:30pm. But because it was Shandong Airlines, we were delayed and didn't arrive until 9:30pm. So we totally understood Raelynn's exhaustion, but it didn't excuse her behavior. I tried to help Jeremy keep her busy but it was hard since I had Seoul sleeping in my arms. But surprisingly, the flight went very quickly and the next thing I knew, we were landing. We took a taxi to our hotel - Yi Hai Bai Ling Hotel, which was on the Pearl River - and both Seoul and Raelynn were sound asleep for the whole ride. This part of town was really happening. Lots of restaurants, bars and clubs, all of them bustling with activity. It looked like a really good time...if you didn't have 2 children in tow that is.

Incidentally, my first impression of Guangzhou can be summed up in what I said to Jeremy when we first got off the plane: "Holy wow! They use air-conditioning here!" They sure do! But in many cases, I still felt hot even when it was on, probably because they could have turned it colder and more full blast, but it's more air conditioned than Qingdao, that's for sure. Our hotel room had central A/C but it never did get cold enough for our liking, sadly. It cooled down just enough to keep us from melting though at least but standing in front of the mini-fridge was a way better way to cool down fast.

There was also something so cool at the airport. Even though I don't smoke anymore, I found this contraption fascinating:
 It's a lighter machine. It gives out lighters. So many people smoke in China and of course, they aren't allowed to carry lighters onto the aircraft. This handy thing allows them to take a new lighter once they get their luggage from the baggage claim. Nifty!

Anyway, Jeremy had booked us this room instead of another room he'd originally booked us closer to the embassy. He thought it would be nice to have a nice view of the river and reasoned that we could always take a taxi or the subway to the embassy. Here's our view of the river at night:

Excuse the reflection of our room in the photos. I'm not a professional photographer so shut up, ok? Thanks. Anyway, back to our adventures in Guangzhou...

The next morning, we got up early so we could partake in the hotel's included breakfast. Since this was a Chinese hotel, you know what kind of breakfast I got, don't you? Sigh. I neglected to take photos though except for this one of Raelynn eating some bread and drinking orange juice:
I've seen worse Chinese breakfasts, much thanks to my MIL. This buffet had bread and jelly at least. Oh and fried eggs. So at least I could eat something. For those of you that don't know, Chinese people will eat yesterday's leftover dinner items for breakfast. So while some of it might not be bad, it's not the thing you want to eat first thing in the morning. Or at least not what I personally want to eat that early. So fried noodles? Sounds good to me for lunch but for breakfast, I want eggs or pancakes and some toast and lots of coffee. Sometimes bacon and sausage but usually, I prefer a meatless breakfast.

After this, we changed our clothes to look more presentable and headed to the embassy. We took the subway. Despite being air conditioned, it was still hot. Perhaps because I was wearing the baby in the Baby Bjorn, or perhaps because the air wasn't chilled enough. But it still beat the heat from outside. I forgot how much hot weather sucked. We're talking hot and muggy, very much like my home of Florida. How did I ever endure Florida weather for most of my life? I'll tell you how - everyone air conditions everything to the extreme.

On the train, some people were kind enough to give up their seats to Raelynn and me. I was actually very surprised by how nice the people were there. They went out of their way to be friendly and helpful without intruding. In Qingdao, people can be fairly friendly but they swarm you if you're foreign, especially if you have a baby, and act like they've never seen such a thing. I feel like a freaking unicorn. Guangzhou just seemed a whole lot more civilized. And interesting. Their subway is almost identical to the one in Seoul. My husband and I were stunned at how much we felt like we were back in Korea while we were there. Women carry their babies using carriers like me instead of in their arms. It seems like more parents there are hands-on instead of leaving the kids with their inept grandparents. Jeremy said that Guangzhou people have the philosophy about life that you should live it - eat, drink and have a good time. Now THOSE are my kind of people. Qingdao people are rather boring. Things are not open late here, even for such a big city. In the downtown area, some of the clubs and bars are but not enough to say that nightlife is really Qingdao's thing.

Seriously, I did not at all feel any aggravation toward Chinese people or Chinese customs in Guangzhou. At all. I only felt annoyance while within the US embassy. Not because of the embassy itself. But because of a very cute but naughty child. Raelynn.

I had spent weeks and weeks talking to her about this trip - telling her where and why we were going, talking to her about the airplane and about how we should behave at the embassy. It fell on deaf ears. We had 2 appointments, the first at 1pm for Seoul's citizenship. That's in a different part of the embassy than the immigration section. In this section, there happened to be a little play house for small children. Raelynn hid in there. At first, Jeremy kept trying to get her out and then we figured to just leave her in there so she'd be quiet in that room. There were a couple other children that had come in too and I didn't see the harm in letting her play. Why force her to sit in a chair and be bored when there was an activity she could do?

We went through our paperwork and paid our fees and after waiting 40 more minutes, we were called up and told Seoul's been approved for US citizenship. Not that we worried they'd reject her but there's always that fear. The guy behind the window fussed over how cute Seoul is and told us he thought it was awesome that we got married in Seoul and then named one of our children Seoul.

Next, it was up to the immigration department on the 3rd floor. It was almost 2:30pm, our appointment time so we told Raelynn to come with us. Only she didn't want to leave the play house. We didn't want to yell or make a scene. Anywhere else in China, we would. I'm not a fan of it, but I believe in spanking when your child does something very dangerous or something so horrible you are shocked by it. I don't think it's ok to hit anywhere but on the butt though and we stick to that. But in the US embassy, I feared we would be judged. In the states, I have friends who spank their kids who are afraid to do so in public because they worry someone will report them for child abuse for disciplining their child. I find this crazy because my brother and I were spanked as children and we did not resent our parents, nor did we repeat the action that earned us a spanking. Our problem with Raelynn is that she doesn't listen and even when she gets punished for something, she sometimes doesn't learn from it.

Her new thing is to hide under tables and chairs just for the fuck of it. Always at the most inopportune times, like at that moment. Finally, we just walked out of the room and she screamed and cried and ran to us. We lectured her in the elevator up to the immigration floor and she cried and said sorry. But she didn't mean it. When we got into the immigration area, we were told to sit and listen for my name. I took the opportunity to feed Seoul but about 5 minutes later, there was a man calling my name from behind a window. We all jumped up and went into a small room that had a big glass partition in the middle that separated us from him. Seoul was now crying because her meal had been interrupted and Raelynn was crying because Jeremy had scolded her for her behavior. The embassy official said he only needed to speak to the petitioner (that's me) and asked Jeremy if he could take the children in the other room.

Once they were gone, he said I looked like a good mom and had a nice family. I thanked him and apologized for the noise. He said it was no big deal but he just wanted to be able to collect the paperwork without either of us being distracted. He said he didn't need to speak to my husband and that later in the process, they will talk to him. So the official and I delved into the paperwork. He'd request a document; I'd slide it through the opening in the window. He'd request the copy next and I'd slide that through and he'd stamp it. He said everything looked good and explained what would happen next. He also collected some of our family photos. He was only interested in ones that had both Jeremy and me with either his parents or my parents, or with Raelynn as a baby with both sides of our families present. I also gave him some old envelopes and box tops containing our names and address to show we reside in the same home. You might find that odd but the government website says you must prove you have a real marriage. In China, they don't do joint checking accounts so you have to show things in other ways.

Next, he sent me out of the room to have my husband go pay the fee on the floor below and return with the receipt while I watched my kids. Seoul was easy as always. But Raelynn, I'd discovered, had been running up and down the room, making Jeremy nuts. He was trying to stop her but, not wanting to shout or spank her in the US embassy, was at a loss for what to do. He seemed thrilled to escape for any reason. I tried unsuccessfully as well to stop her. I was livid and completely embarrassed and praying to God that they didn't reject Jeremy because my daughter was acting like a brat.

The embassy official assured me that would have no impact on our petition for an immigrant visa but I was still absolutely mortified by her behavior. We did not raise our daughter to behave this way.

But I know who did.

Every weekday while I've been on maternity leave, my in-laws take Raelynn to the nearby park. My FIL is completely responsible for this because he lets her run around like a maniac and doesn't control her. MIL tries but then second-guesses herself and backs down. This is a recipe for disaster. They were over for dinner tonight to pre-celebrate the upcoming harvest holiday. That's the one with the mooncakes, in case you were wondering. Anyway, Jeremy flipped out on his father because he brought 6 little canisters of Japanese tea cookies for Raelynn and was going to let her eat them before dinner.

By the way, this all started with cookies. We'd arrived about an hour early for the embassy appointment so we went across the street to a very air-conditioned Starbucks so I could sit and breastfeed Seoul without sweating to death and we could relax. We'd put cookies in the diaper bag for snacking during our trip. Jeremy gave her one so she'd sit down and chill out. It wound up having the opposite effect. Even after we punished her for not listening in the Starbucks, she STILL behaved like a total jerk at the embassy.

And beyond that, when Jeremy, who was rather angry and grouchy at this point, took me to Tekila, a Mexican restaurant my friend Alicia (who had lived in Guangzhou until just recently) had recommended. Did Raelynn learn from any of our lectures or earlier punishments? No. She kept crawling under our table and then wandering around the adjacent room in the restaurant, which was empty thankfully, taking the salt shakers off the tables. We were so humiliated by her. We kept giving her things to do - watch the iPad, color with crayons and of course, gave her food to eat - and she kept up with this insane behavior. When we got back to the hotel, she got a big spanking and lots of yelling. I hope she never forgets it. I STILL remember when I was rotten in a restaurant as a little girl. I was about Raelynn's age. My parents warned me once and told me to stop it. They warned me again and told me that if I didn't knock it off, I'd get a spanking and we'd leave. I didn't listen and I got a big spanking, one that made me realize if I keep acting like jerk in public, my folks are going to punish me. But if I sit down and shut up, I'll get dessert and everything will be ok.
Ole! Jeremy and I stuffed ourselves with papas nachos which were french fries topped like nachos, beef enchiladas and baja shrimp tacos. Oh and a side of guacamole. And beer. We needed beer to mellow us out after Raelynn's awful outbursts.

I guess Raelynn is having trouble processing this and now Jeremy sees WHY I don't like his parents to spend time with her. Now he can see that this is causing us huge problems. My Chinese is not very good but I understand so much now that I've lived her for 4 years. He told them about her behavior in the embassy and that they needed to correct her behavior when she disobeyed, not let her run around and talk back to people.

Thankfully, the next day, she was much better. For most of the day. We had a flight set for 8pm so we had all day to do things. Another blah breakfast at the hotel. Then we chilled in our room a bit, getting dressed, having coffee, packing and such. And then we checked out and went to lunch.
 The hotel employee who checked our luggage for us after we checked out was happy to get a family photo for us.

We wanted to eat the native cuisine so down the street we went until Jeremy had picked a place for us. First, we stepped inside to test the quality of the A/C. It was ice-cold in there so we decided to stay.

My first friend in China, Andrea, who has since moved back to the US, spent a lot of time in China. She's been all over and she said that by far, the food in the Shandong Province (where Qingdao is located) is the worst. Shanghai fare wasn't bad but I thought Beijing food was better. And now I'd say Guangzhou cuisine is pretty up there too.

 Jeremy checks out the menu to see what kind of dishes we don't see in Qingdao.

 Raelynn looks out the window at a boat passing by in the river.

 Beer was buy 2, get 2. Hells yes!

 Jeremy ordered this chicken dish. It wasn't bad, though a bit salty. I wouldn't choose it again though.

 Here is their version of a dish I love in Beijing. It's like Beijing-style spicy eggplant but it's not spicy. Jeremy didn't like this but I did. But I have to say that the Beijing version is better.

 This bread was served warm with ice cold butter that melted when you wedged it between the top and bottom. It was soooooooooooooo good.

 Beef and bok choy. This was one of our favorites. The sauce on this was so light yet so tasty. The best way I can describe it is that it tasted slightly like the sauce you'd get with shrimp with lobster sauce at any Chinese restaurant back home. Yum!

 This clay pot was filled with seafood - shrimp, squid, imitation crab meat and frog legs. Yup. That's right. Frog legs. I've had them before with my dad and it's not something I'd go order a plate of but I will eat them if they are served to me. I didn't care for the imitation crab in this dish. It was out of place. This was not bad, but not a favorite.

However, this was the clear winner of the day. A crispy BBQ roasted pork. I actually picked this one because the picture looked so good in the menu. I picked a winner.

After that huge lunch, we set out to do some shopping. Which turned into lots and lots and lots of walking. Poor Raelynn did a good job keeping up. Seoul slept through most of it, waking conveniently while we were inside stores with chairs so I could sit and feed her. We bought shoes from a cool shoe store we found that was having a big sale. Then we walked into a discount clothing market, similar to ones we have here but better. Cleaner. Cuter clothes. Way cuter. Problem is Guangzhou folks are smaller. In stature and girth. Both the men and the women. So none of these things would fit us. Much of it looked like stuff that only Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz could wear.

After that, we walked down another street and found this huge clothing store that was having a massive blowout. First, we picked out stuff for Jeremy. He needed some new threads even more desperately than me. I need them too, but since I'm still losing the baby weight, I'm not buying any pants or skirts at the moment. Jeremy helped me pick out 3 shirts that I liked. We hope they fit since Seoul was so sound asleep in the carrier I did not want to chance waking her up to try them on.

By now, it was almost 5pm. We needed to get our bag and get to the airport. We snagged a taxi and I talked Jeremy into asking the driver to take us to the airport after getting our bag. He wanted to eat somewhere else for dinner first but I told him we'd never get to the airport in time.

I was right. Well, if the plane had been on time, I would have been anyway.

I should also mention that all during this time, Raelynn was very good. She did everything we asked and we were very pleased with her behavior. That's why I felt good about giving her a cookie while we waited at our gate at the airport. But then it all went downhill. She's like what Cookie Monster would be like if he did crank. She flipped out and tried attacking me for the rest of the cookies in the bag. Another humiliating moment for us but now that we weren't in the embassy, she got a spanking. That's when Jeremy and I vowed not to give her any cookies for anything ever again. Hence why he shouted at his father, and now I have a stash of little tasty Japanese tea cookies that I must make sure 1) she never finds and 2) that I don't gobble all of them up..

Oh yes! And the best part of our trip...finally getting home from the airport at almost 2 in the morning and finding Jeremy's parents standing out on the sidewalk WAITING for us. Why weren't they waiting in our house if they wanted to wait for us? They are so weird. But it was nice of them because we did need some help as Raelynn had fallen completely asleep and Jeremy couldn't carry her and our suitcase. So what were they doing lurking around in the shadows so late at night? Jeremy had let them know our flight plans but his phone battery died before we boarded the plane. So they had no idea our flight was delayed. Because, you know, it would never occur to them to call the airline and check the flight information. Of course they won't look online because they don't have internet at their house, but you'd think they'd call. Insert facepalm here.

Overall, I really enjoyed Guangzhou, except for the heat of course. I was happy to come home to Qingdao and feel the difference in temperature. Though not happy to get back and see my in-laws, or the lackluster lifestyle that Qingdao people embrace. If all goes well with Jeremy's visa though, I might have to go back to Guangzhou with him for the visa interview but they might only want him to come. We'll see. But no one would have to twist my arm to make me go back there.

Stay tuned for updates about the visa process and please, send your best vibes our way. Thanks, and now to end this post, I'll leave you with this photo of Seoul on her very first plane ride. I gave her rabbit ears. I thought they were a nice touch.