Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Xiao Tai Zi

At 4:01 AM Sunday March 30th, 2008 I held you in my arms for the first time and our lives changed forever. Never had I experienced anything as epic as when I held your warm, damp, squirming body and watched you take your first breaths and scream at the top of your little lungs.

And then, in the blink of an eye, you went from this:

to this:

Like every mother before, I am feeling so torn between joy and sadness on this incredibly special day. It has been so amazing watching you grow and learn and an honor to be able to guide and teach you so many wonderful things. We love you so very much, Quinlon Jade. Happy 1st Birthday, my son. You are an answer to our prayers and the light of our lives.

Mama and Baba

Sunday, March 29, 2009

At this very moment...

one year ago, I was in active labor with about 20 more hours to go.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

You have to see this...

Here we can get the crispiest, juiciest, sweetest pears I have EVER had for 1 Yuan(16 cents in USD) for half a kilo (a little over a pound). Quinlon ADORES them. When we bring home a bag the first thing he does is dig one out and try to eat it. Of course we quickly intervene and wash it then let him have at it. Normally, he loses interest pretty quickly because it is a lot of work when you only have 5 teeth and he is still learning how to bite things with them.

But today, oh, today he really went to town on his pear victim.

Seriously, so farking cute.

And he is still not done. I'm getting the camera ready for shots of the aftermath. Oy, we're going to need a bath after this one.

I'm panicking a little.

I can't lie. Quinlon turning one has me freaking out. badly. To top it off, the last week has seen the disappearance of sooooo much of his baby-ness and the appearance of all these toddlerisms that just blow my mind.

He's had a gibberish language explosion and I have actually caught him trying to imitate people both in English and more often, Chinese.

I just don't feel ready for this. He's already a toddler by definition since he has all but abandoned crawling in favor of walking so fast that he is almost leaning forward 45 degrees, but something about this first birthday is so... final.

Donnie's boss is taking us out to dinner on Monday and Sunday we are having a small get together for our friends. Something tells me the kid is going to make out like a bandit.

So far we have a cute pair of adidas sneakers (flexible soled) and an awesome spiderman hoodie (the hood makes it look like HE is spider man ♥). We want to get him a scooter/bike thingie or a puppy. Well, i want a puppy, but Donnie is being resistant, mostly because he doesn't want to deal with puppy poop and pee, but I think I am wearing him down.

*EDIT* Today is 1 year from my EDD. I was so hugely pregnant and had hideous cankles. I spent the next 4 days eating ice cream and knitting at home watching a A Baby Story and crying.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy ICLW!!

This being my first, I have gathered that I should post my story.

I can't remember why I started a blog. I had a livejournal back in the angsty college days for my poetry and "I hate everything" tirades but then outgrew it... abandoned it and forgot about the online blogging community.

In that time I met the love of my life and married him 100 days after we met. Got pregnant on accident, but we were thrilled despite poor timing. Then, at our first prenatal appointment at around 8.5 weeks found out via ultrasound that our little angel was no longer with us.

Devestated doesn't begin to cover what we felt. It was a rocky, dark next several months, but in the end it gave Donnie and I an unbreakable bond and has carried us through many tough times since.

About 4 months after the miscarriage, we decided to start trying again. We figured since it happened so easily the first time it would be a cinch now that we were actually making an effort to get pregnant.


Somewhere in the rollercoaster of TTC, I started this blog. I was a terrible blogger, spotty at best. But with work and life itself, I was lucky to remember to brush my teeth some nights.

Finally got my BFP on cycle 12, barely making the cutoff for the "normal" range of healthy couples, but not before I had become something of an expert on all things TTC.

So then, my ramblings about TTC turned into ecstatic and nervous posts about the little life I was growing inside me and also into a way to document all the beautiful moments of pregnancy that I feared I might forget. After a beautifully smooth pregnancy and a eye-opening natural birth center, midwife attended birth, the blog evolved once again into the blog of a mother. Quinlon Jade joined this world on March 30th, 2008 at 4:01 AM, forever changing our lives.

To date, mother has to be my favorite role. I love being a wife/daughter/sister/friend but there is just something about being a mother that still, to this very day, takes my breath away and puts tears in my eyes.

But the evolution was not near complete as we made our plans to move to China to go to TCM school and teach English. Donnie, you see, is a kung fu master whose master himself lives in China. I could go into boring details, but unless you are in the martial arts world, his prestigious titles mean very little. Just know that he has dedicated his life to the art and it has paid off in his accomplishments, so it means the world to him to be near his master.

In February of 2009, we finally succeeded and boarded a plane to China with our 10 month old in tow all of which you can read on my blog in past entries.

So, here we are. A young, hip American family in China trying to carve out a happy, successful place for ourselves in a sinking economic world.

Pleased to meet you all. I can't wait to learn about your lives.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I am not kidding about the pseudo celebrity thing.

We have random people ask to have their picture taken with us and crowds gather (literally) when we stop for any length of time in public. It's insane.

So, to kill 2 birds with one stone, here is a video of Quinlon walking like a pro and the crowd that gathered. Now, this is just ON campus where they are semi used to seeing us walk around. It is worse when we go out on the town.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Our day out...

I had some long post typed about it, then firefox, the bitch, crashed and deleted it all. So you just get pictures. Deal.


Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm stuck...

It was brought to my attention that I should take pictures of the food and make everyone hate me for the yumminess I get to eat daily.

Until I remember to actually take the camera to dinner, these cute pictures of the baby dragon learning to take his shirt off will have to do.

I take that back, I do have another post coming about a day on the town a few days ago with LOTS of pictures.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I got my hair cut...

it's ok. I like it, but I will be changing the bangs. The bangs make me look a bit matronly in my opinion.

But, more importantly I took some pics while we were waiting for the bus. It was just Quinlon, our friend and student at the college, Christine, and myself.

Group shot

Proof that I am in China LOL

terrible picture of me, but you can see it's an a-line with heavy bangs.

Interesting news.

I have a few more monster entries to make about some of the first few days we were here but I wanted to fast forward to yesterday and report some interesting news.

Yesterday, we had to go to the hospital in charge of the medical examinations of all foreigners who come to Taiyuan and have physicals done. This involved, a blood test, urine test, EKG, u/s of the abdomen, height/weight/eyesight eval, and a chest x-ray. Nothing serious, they just want to check for contagious diseases and major health issues.

During the abdominal u/s the tech was having me take deeper breaths and hold them and taking twice as long as she did on Donnie's exam. We called our friend back in to translate and he said that one of the organs has a small problem, but it is not serious, just that it needs to be checked in 6 months. He didn't know the translation for which organ but from the location of the exam, we were assuming appendix, maybe.

Turns out it was not my appendix, but my gallbladder. And, like he assured me, it is nothing serious, just a polyp in my gallbladder. Seems they are quite common and, as in my case, symptomless. Apparently, it is small enough that they are not concerned it may be pre-cancerous (1mm or less, I believe) and they just want to check in 6 months that it is either the same or smaller to be certain it is harmless.

Talk about serious moment of panic, though.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yes, we did finally get our luggage...

4 days after arriving. We were pretty smelly and poor Quinlon's two pair of interlock wool pants were filthy.

But that issue aside, it has been wonderful.

Our first full day here was spent being lazy for the most part. The jet lag was atrocious and it took several 3-4AM wake ups (for the day) on Quinlon's part before we finally got our days and nights switched. And the nursing marathon is only just now coming to end.

We were picked up around noon by two of the English major students who took us shopping at WAL MART!! HAHA. They were baffled when we told them that we rarely even shop at Wal-Mart in America because we don't like the company. I think they were just being considerate and trying to make our transition easier by giving us familiar things. Well, familiar in their theories, maybe, but in reality Wal-Mart in the US is not even the same species as Wal-Mart in China. I could kick myself for not taking the camera and taking pictures.

Wal-Mart in China has a hair salon in it. No kidding.

We spent a nice chunk of change getting house things and some food and then headed back to the campus and were treated to dinner at the canteen, as they call it. It's a cafeteria on campus just like most schools in the US have but all similarities end there.

The food is wonderful... well, at least to our virgin taste buds. I'm sure if it were the typical cafeteria fare found in the US we would be as ambivalent about it as the students here are to the canteen offerings.

There are 2 floors with so many different windows to get food. Most is premade and lucky for us, you can just point, say 'nei ge' (that) and 'yi ge' (one), swipe your card and go. So far one of our favorites is the hand made 'la mian' or pulled noodles with s spicey potato filled broth over it topped with chopped cilantro. They make them to order and I am always mesmerized by watching the guys do it.

It took Quinlon a little while to warm up to the food and for us to figure out what was even something he could eat with any nutritional value.

But, it's after 10PM and I've been promised a fabulous massage by Donnie who just returned from giving a 90 minute lecture on American culture with a kick ass powerpoint presentation made by yours truly.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Did I mention...

that I am now the mama of a toddler?

That's right, Quinlon is walking now... as of about a week ago.

Video coming. Youtube is ungodly slow from China.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

On another topic...

Quinlon pooped 4 times yesterday! Seriously.

What the hell is up with that?

Journey to China: part 2

We stepped off the plane and walked down the long tunnel to the airport and stepped out into the gorgeously redone Beijing airport (the Olympics were good to Beijing it seems). The signs that we were not in Kansas anymore were becoming obvious now. Every sign is written not only in English, but Hanzi was well. We made our way through the airport following the bilingual directives and even go smoothly through customs without a hitch. Donnie was surprised at the ease with which we cleared the check points.

Just as we were feeling confident that things were going to go smoothly, we finally get to the baggage carousel only to find that ONE of our 4 checked items is there. ONE. The pack n play was the ONLY item of ours circling the baggage claim.

Just as panic started to set in, a helpful friendly airline representative came over and directed us to the lost baggage office. I waited outside with our little baggage cart loaded with only our carry ons, car seat, and pack n play while Donnie handles all the paperwork regarding our missing luggage.

It turned out that the other 3 bags containing ALL of our clothes, diapers, my precious yarn, and Donnie's treasured teas never even made it on the plane and were still sitting in NYC at JFK airport. But, never fear, they promised that we would get them in 2-3 days.

Umm, yeah. 2-3 days. How sweet of them. I was beyond happy that I had overpacked cloth diapers in the carry on otherwise, we would have been SOL when we ran out.

With that issue "taken care of" we headed to the exit to meet with our contact who was to help us navigate the airport and get plane tickets from Beijing to Taiyuan. We spotted Pink (yes, that was her English name. After several other incidents involving names, I am convinced they just pick random names they like to be their English name and because English is a second language, they don't get that it is not really a name that they chose.)

She guided us to the ticket counter, helped translate to buy our tickets and helped us to through check in. Donnie had spoken to our next contact who was to meet us at the Taiyuan airport who's name was original given to us as "Mr Sun" but Pink introduced him as Victor. We had been assured that everything is ready for us in Taiyuan and after a 50 minute flight we stepped off a second plane, finally DONE with our actual travelling part of the journey.

Victor met us at the airport and we hopped into a rickety, smelly red van with a driver who speaks not a bit of English. Mr Sun/Victor asked us if we were hungry and when we said that we were, took us to a lovely 24 hour dim sum restaurant. This was when the nature of our lives in China started to become apparent.

In China, it is not rude to stare. And stare they do. A lot. For nearly all of the people we see here, we are the ONLY Americans they have ever seen and may ever see. AND to top things off, we have a baby here! It is a celebrity-dom of sorts, although it took some getting used to at first.

While at the restaurant, the girls who work there kept coming into the private room we were dining in just to giggle and watch Quinlon. He, of course, was loving the attention and hamming it up for them. But Mr. Sun/Victor explained that, in China, the children are not allowed on the floor because it is too dirty so we might want to pick him up. Quinlon, who had had quite his fill of being carried and strapped down wanted nothing to do with it and we just resigned ourselves to looking like bad parents just this once. Although, little did we know that it would not be the last time we would get scolded for doing something 'wrong'.

After dinner (which was DELICIOUS) we headed to the school where we trekked up 5 flights of stairs to our apartment. It's homey and nothing fancy, but compared to most here in China, we are living like kings. Finally, after an extraordinarily long day we collapsed into bed, ending our first 'day' in China.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Journey to China: part 1.

We woke up around 8 AM EST and scrambled to make last minute preparations for the flight that afternoon. We managed to pack all the final items, run to the bank and get on the road only half an our later than planned. Since we had a 60-90 minute drive into the city, we wanted to leave with plenty of time for traffic delays so we were still on time for our 3PM departure.

We arrive at the airport and say some teary goodbyes to Father in law and make our way to the ticket counter where we encountered our first bump in the road.

A little backstory first. We knew we had to pay for Quinlon even as a lapchild and called Air China when we booked our tickets to inquire as to what to do about this since we couldn't book his ticket online (required a paper ticket to be issued). They assured us that we could pay at the gate with no trouble.

Fast forward back to current problem at the airport. We were (very politely) informed that they had no record of an infant included on our reservation and now we have to speak to the Air China representative to book a ticket.

Fortunately, the flight was not sold out and 45 minutes and $300 later we were on our way through security.

I wish there was a way to convey the sight of us and our very much overpacked carryons making our way through security. Thank goodness most major airports now have a family line that makes it much easier and faster, but still, taking off 3 pairs of shoes, coats and shoving 4 carry on items and pocket contents into little grey plastic bins can be quite the ordeal.

We make it through security fairly smoothly (no secondary security check woo!) and make our way as quickly to the gate as possible. We don't even get to the actual gate area before we see a long line of Chinese people who look suspiciously like they are waiting for something important. We hop in line and only 5 minutes later the lines starts moving because our flight is boarding.

We board the plane, got settled, buckled the carseat in and only had to wait for 15 minutes before we were ready for take off.

The flight itself was rather uneventful. It still feels weird to say that about a 13 hour plane ride, but honestly, Quinlon was an angel. He played happily across our laps and standing in the carseat and making friends left and right. Around normal bedtime (on eastern time, mind you) he went to sleep and did his normal night thing. I even got 5 hours of sleep which did wonders for making the flight seem shorter.

The last hour of the flight seemed the longest. Quinlon was awake and starting to get a bit of cabin fever but still in great spirits and we just kept forking over the rice puffs and dried fruit to keep his little mouth occupied.

We landed and gathered our 'campsite' and prepared to step out into a whole new world.

... to be continued.

Miss me?

I'm going to attempt to type out the entire adventure in the next blog post. Just wanted to break the radio silence and let everyone know we made it safe and sound.