Thursday, June 28, 2012

From the 25th floor

Blue skies!

We get "bright" days, but blue skies are rare.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Koi ponds

I'd love to do a video tour of the grounds here, but everywhere I go, there are signs specifying "NO cameras", "NO laying", "NO sitting", "NO skateboarding", "NO rollerskating", " NO swimming", that makes me envision this eye in the sky keeping tabs on us, because people around here really do follow the rules...Well, sorta, I did catch a little boy peeing in the planter outside block 14 yesterday--in his defense, there is no sign that clarifies "NO peeing"..Why does this not surprise me?

Anyways, aside from the pee anywhere acceptability (did I mention the police officer we watched pull his scooter over on the greenbelt behind our complex to take a leak one afternoon? ..Anyways, yeah--we watched him pull over, drop his drawers and pee in the trees)..Back to the point--the tour--and the "NO camera" policy. I guess it's to keep privacy for those of us who live here, but I wish I could just snap a few pictures to share back home.

Well, it's your lucky day--because this morning, NZ came along on Sal and my morning walk.

With iPhone in hand.

And guess what? He got a picture of Sal and I about to feed the koi.

Sneaky husband. He's so cool.

We have 5 koi ponds in our complex, and many of the first floor apartments actually have yards that open up out onto the ponds. Some have decks, some do not. Although we think living in a first floor apartment with a basement and yard sounds pretty cool, I do have reservations about it--seeing as I have a rather curious little boy to raise. I can just picture a mobile little one year-old motoring out the door, straight into the pond. He'd be the kid whose mom made him wear floaties24/7 "just in case".

Anyways, Sal and I take a few walks each day, zig zagging through our complex, and sometimes we get really wild and go out onto the greenbelt on the other side of our gates, but that means I have to have our passports in hand, and well, that's a nuisance, and I am lazy. Carrying Sal is enough.

We stop and look at the Koi, and on a few of our walks, we have passed by an older gentleman who plays the flute for the fish. I call him the pied piper. If he is out playing music, we usually have a seat ( where allowed, of course..don't want to break the NO sitting rule either..apparently some benches you CAN sit on, and others you can't. Go figure) and listen to him. All of the fish come his way-- there are literally hundreds at his feet.

This morning, NZ grabbed a bag of oats and we got to feed the fish with Sal. We may not have musical talents, but a bag of oats works just the same!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A smile and a nod, and we'll figure it out later

It's 2:00p and our ayi has arrived.

NZ has been searching for iPad apps that can help us communicate with her ( although at this point,I am convinced it would be quicker for us to just learn Mandarin). We thought we had found one, but by the sound of things, it's not going so well with google translate. It has worked quite well with our driver, so we had high hopes it would help Liu convey her questions to us.

Such is not the case.

I'm usually the only one home when she comes to clean. She and I play a weird version of charades that usually helps us communicate, and if I use google translate, she understands it enough--but we're struggling when it comes to her trying to tell me something. On Monday afternoon, she washed the bed linens that I had just washed the day before.... all because I couldn't explain to her that I had just washed them, and could we please wait two days til Wednesday?

So, clean sheets it was. I really shouldn't complain about having fresh sheets now, should I?

Yesterday, I typed out to her that Sal and I would be right back--we were going downstairs to get our mail. Before I could grab the door, she grabbed my arm and was leading me out onto the balcony to show me that it was raining and charaded that I needed an umbrella and Sal needed something as well. What does he need? His own umbrella? A hat? Huh? No hablo Chinese.

Finally she lead me to his room and showed me his drawer of jackets.

A jacket?

It's JUNE. A very humid 80 degrees. A jacket? Really?

She held the jacket as if I should put it on him. I had to grab my iPad ( I could have been down to get the mail and back already!) to type out that our mailbox was inside the lobby. We would not be going outside in the rain.

"Hao" (okay)

And after that 5 minute exchange, Sal and I were off to get our mail, jacket and umbrella-less, and were back in under 3 minutes.

One thing is for sure, she's looking out for us. So far, so good. I like her, and the fact that she will rattle off in Chinese like I totally understand her. I give her the whole " I-have-no-idea-what-you-just-said, so-just-go-ahead-and-do-it-until- I-learn-how-to-tell-you-otherwise" smile and away she goes to wash our sheets again.

We will get this whole lost in translation thing down. We'll find an app that works for her ( she slows down her pronunciation and YELLS into the iPad, which makes her word "rag" come up as "pig", etc.) She must think we're really crazy. Those dang Americans, why don't they learn the language?

Bananas over Bananas

Look who's bananas over banana's!
Sal loves to eat bananas by himself through his mesh fresh food feeder.

What a big boy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Xin Tian Di

On Sunday afternoon, we had our driver take us into Shanghai to meet up with NZ's cousin, TZ. He emailed NZ earlier in the week to let him know that he would be in Shanghai and wanted to know if we'd be interested in meeting up for dinner & drinks.

The obvious response was a "YES!" from both of us.

Our first visitor and we haven't even been here a month.


Since TZ had been traveling for work across Asia for a week already, and we hadn't really been into Shanghai other than our stay at the Sheraton our first night in China, we offered to make the drive to meet him. It was a 2 hour drive, and for the most part, we didn't hit traffic till we got into Shanghai past the Hongqiao airport.

Shanghai has an area called xin tian di, which is architecturally rich with history (shikumen houses), but also very modern with the shops and restaurants that are located in these reconstituted homes. The area takes up a few city blocks. Xin tian di reminded Nick and I of Disneyland because it was like we were taken out of the city and into another world. It had cobblestone walkways & old stone buildings. Pretty much straight out of a storybook.

Our first stop was at a Tapas bar for some Tsingtao beer (this brand has replaced Budweiser on our fridge shelf) and a prosciutto & salame appetizer. I loved people watching from the patio. There were many foreigners in the mix, and there was even a John Mayer imposter singing "Georgia" for a big crowd. It was just a really neat place..and although the mall that anchors xin tian di was calling my name, I headed off to dinner with the boys. TZ had been to xin tian di many years ago, and recalled a super delish Chinese restaurant within the corridor. We found it and decided to give it a go. As formal and Chinese as it was inside, I was laughing at their use of the iPad for ordering off the menu. They literally give each table an iPad, and the guests order from there! We ate family style and I enjoyed my first taste of Peking duck. Yes, mom, this is the same daughter that lived on plain egg noodles for much of her teenage years.

One unforseen issue that arose not one, not two, but THREE times yesterday was that of our son's need to poop.

Yep, poop.

THREE times!

Now, in the states, this is no big deal. At home, I'd grab the diaper bag, head to the restroom, pull down the public Changing station, and get to work on the clean-up. Not the case here in China. Sal has been changed on, dare I admit it???


Hey, when in Rome, right?

Thankfully I have an arsenal of disposable changing mats I can toss, and I use an extra diaper under his head to keep his head cushioned.

What was different with yesterday's change at the restaurant was the help I received.

I asked to be directed to the toilet , and instead of the hostess just pointing, she walked me down & opened the stall door. I quickly decided that I could not close the stall door and complete a change, so I started to pull out my changing pad with the door wide open. A mom has to do what a mom has to do! Imagine my surprise when I felt a hand tug at the mat I was struggling to unfold with one hand. Out of my hand it went, and next thing I know, it's been shook open and laid on the floor by the sweet hostess. I thought to myself, OMG, she is going to watch me change a poopy diaper in her restaurant. She is probably cursing me under her breath! with no other choice than to have an audience, I removed the diaper. I looked up to grab a wipe, and I then had 3 more restaurant staff staring over my shoulder. What came next shocked me ( in a good way). The sweet hostess grabbed hold of one of Sal's wild legs so that I could finish cleaning up the mess. I jokingly kept saying " Peeee-eww and Stinky" and I think she understood English a little bit because she giggled. Once I was finished, she picked him up and played with him so I could clean up.

How's that for service?

Never in a million years would that happen in the States. Had this happened to us two weeks ago when we arrived, it would have creeped me out..but even just 2 weeks in, I realize that the saying, " It takes a village to raise a child" is sort of how Chinese culture works. I saw the woman who helped me in the bathroom as so very kind--but I think all she saw a mother in need of an extra hand, and jumped right in. I've noticed this also with our ayi. If she sees Sal just even begin to fuss she goes to try and fix it...even if it's just that his toy got away from him ( never mind that he has 16 others within reach-there's no shortage of toys here). The Chinese women I have run into this far, have been very warm and nurturing.

After our bathroom incident, word got around the restaurant that there was a kě ài (cute) baby in the house, and many of the employees came to our table, picked Sal up and took photos with him. He was a good sport with the paparazzi until he had had enough flashbulbs in his eyes and broke down crying and wanting his mama. NZ so awesomely documented the breakdown so I could share it in true oversharing fashion.

And with that breakdown, our driver picked us up, dropped TZ at his hotel and we hit the (sleepy) road back home.

Thanks for the visit Tony!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wuxi Clinic

With both NZ and I on regular medications, we knew we should establish a relationship with a m.d. over here fairly early on. We had been referred to a Physician, known around these parts as "The Belgian Doctor". Word on the street was that she is only in Wuxi on Thursdays and quite busy, but that she is the best. I phoned the clinic on Tuesday this week, and we were seen Thursday afternoon. Our appointment was at 3:00p for both Nick and myself, and we were seen at 3:00p. I was quite shocked. I mean, I worked for a Doctor in my past life, and we actually did run pretty close to the scheduled appointment times, but that was not commonplace in the states. I was used to waiting at least 10-15 minutes minimum to be seen by my physicians.

Another thing I liked was that the physician came out an introduced herself to us and walked us back to her exam room. In the states, medical assistants or receptionists usually do the rooming of the patients. 
I walked away from our appointment quite happy with the physician we had been referred to. She was easy to talk to and seemed to understand our needs quite well. We had intended on asking her for a referral to a pediatrician, but in our discussion with her, we found that she sees many many expat children ( she is a Family Medicine Physician) and is willing to see Sal and follow through with our immunization schedule. Although we did not have an appointment for Sal scheduled today, she still asked us if we had any questions about him. He is due for his next checkup and shots next month, so I will phone the clinic and he will see her as his physician.
Checking the first medical visit off our list lets me breathe a sigh of relief. I was so worried that the standards of cleanliness and care would be lacking, but I feel pretty good about the amenities available to us here in Wuxi, and nearby Shanghai.

Friday, June 22, 2012

From the 25th Floor

With so many things to see from our birds eye view, I decided that each Friday I will write a post titled "from the 25th floor" and  blog about something that we witnessed from the balcony  or windows of our 25th floor hi-rise apartment. I promise to try not to make anyone who is afraid of heights get sick (:

Starting off my Friday series of "from the 25th floor", I bring you a photo taken around 6:30 p.m. On a weeknight. There is a public green belt that runs along the outer gates of our compound, and every night between 6:00 and 8:00p, there can be anywhere from 50-100 people exercising out there. The first time I looked out and saw it, I thought it must be some sort of organized group walking class, but then when I looked further, it was just a bunch of individuals, couples and families exercising on their own accord. It's really nice to see so many people taking care of themselves, and it inspired me to do that same green belt walk with Sal each afternoon before it gets crowded with people.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Give Peas a Chance

This week we asked Sal to give peas a chance.

I had this grand ol plan to introduce veggies first, and work our way towards sweeter fruits, etc.
We're still getting our footing and learning what it safe, and not safe for foreigners to purchase locally, and what should be imported. Veggies, unfortunately, are one of the items we've been warned about. So, due to lack of selection of imported produce, I settled on frozen peas. I had hoped to do green beans or asparagus first, but peas were available, so that's what I intended on introducing first.
From the face on Sal, you can see how he felt about giving peas a chance.
Not a fan.
Even worse, mom and dad laughing in the poor guys face..that was, until I tasted them myself and they were the bitterest peas I have ever had in my life. Poor guy!
Determined to introduce a solid this week, I scavenged our freezer and found a frozen banana. 
Yes, Mrs. I-won't-serve-my-kid-fruit-before-veggies, did just that. Aborted the whole pea mission after two bites ( which were promptly sent back my way), and gave Sal his first bite of banana. It went over much better. He's still not sure of the texture, but he did allow for more than two spoonfuls and ate it again this morning mixed with his rice cereal.
Parent fail or parent picking-and-choosing her battles? I rate myself somewhere in the middle.
I won't give up on peas just yet, and I am on a mission to find a different brand of peas before I subject Sal to any more.There's a TESCO in town, as well as a CityShop in Shanghai which delivers to Wuxi once a week and tends to have great fresh produce imported. It's pricey, but if the peas are good, they'll have me hooked.
Next week we're going to try Sweet Potatoes. Our neighborhood is scheduled for a two day blackout next week, so I am leary of making a huge batch of anything, since our freezer will be out of commission for 2 days. (Welcome to China!) We are moving our frozen and refrigerated goods to a friend's place, and we will probably find shelter in a hotel, since it is much too hot here on the 25th floor with a baby and no A/C.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


With two weeks in Wuxi under our belt, we've already met a handful of other expats in our complex, and are feeling very welcome here. Tonight we went on our evening walk around 5:30p which we've found to help keep Sal entertained and awake a bit longer. As we approached the playground we both exclaimed, "white people!" and I'm pretty sure the couple with the cute little boy on the slide did the same. Seconds later, we're waving at one another and exchanging formalities.

And guess who has a dinner date with new friends on Friday night?

These guys.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Aye, Aye, Ayi

Tomorrow we meet our ayi. As a perk for uprooting Sal and me from our home sweet home and all the household duties that went with it, NZ has hired an ayi to work for us. Ayi is the term used over here for a household helper; someone who may cook, clean, launder, run errands or even watch children.

He went to the local agency yesterday and we've been appointed a 41 year-old woman with a clean bill of health and no problems with the law. I guess that's good enough, right? I have no idea what makes a good housekeeper, or how to "teach" someone how to clean "my way". So, for now, I've made a list of duties I'd like to have her take over, or share with me ( I actually do enjoy some housework).

It's really weird for me to think of someone else doing what has been my "job" for so long. However, having her here to help will allow me to spend as much time as possible raising Sal and making sure Nick has everything he could possibly need. It will also allow for me to Immerse myself in my sewing (during nap times of course) and other things like working out that I enjoy but rarely have time for these days.

We're also hoping that she will interact with Sal and speak mandarin to him. I'm not sold (at all) on leaving him alone with her, but I do hope that in the few hours she is with us each day, that she and Sal form some sort of relationship so that he will head back to California bilingual.

I joked with Nick this morning that he might be creating a monster...I might like having help so much that I'll expect a housekeeper when we return to the states! He then jokingly replied, " I can call and cancel her. It's not too late.", lol.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

5 Months Old

Sal celebrated turning 5 months old last Wednesday. I'm a bit slow on posting ( oh--I don't know why?? Perhaps a move to China is to blame?)
but we took our monthly pictures on the same blanket from home, and I
tested out the new iron while making his 5 month onesie. I'm happy to
report that although I can't read a lick of Chinese, I figured out the
iron settings without burning the building down.
Anyhow, Sal has done quite a bit of growing over the past
month. It seems like he is learning at light speed these days. One
moment he can't do something, then the next he can. He had his last
weigh in just a few days before we left for China, and weighed a
whopping 13lb 10oz. With as much and as often as he eats, I'm surprised
that is all he weighed, but he's healthy, and thriving, so we won't
worry about our lean bean baby for now.
Speaking of eating, Sal started rice cereal this
past month. He grubs on it, and even tries to help me with the spoon.
Many meal times end up in bath times, but it's all about the experience
for messy as it sometimes gets. We still don't have a
highchair, so his Boppy has come in quite handy as a way to prop him
while feeding. He will get a high chair soon, but for now,he still can't
sit up without tipping over, so we will wait on purchasing one for a
bit longer.

His biggest accomplishment this month is the
development of his stink bug pose, bringing his knees up under his belly
while on his stomach, and then scooting himself forward. It looks like
the beginning stages of the army crawl. He can inch his way across the
floor already, and especially likes doing so while naked. Because, like--you know, diapers are so constricting, mom! I've
been stripping him down every evening and letting him go diaper-less
for a half hour or so to avoid diaper rash from the humidity out here.
Sal got his first real crib this past month, and he
sleeps like a champ in it. In fact, he has slept through the night for 4
nights in a row ( watch me jinx myself now). We're talking 7p-5a
without the dream feed or 3 am feeding he was used to.
We're looking forward to watching him grow, and have been so pleased with how he has adapted to his new surroundings.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Flight Gear

I've gotten a handful of e-mails and facebook messages asking me how we made it through a 13 hour flight with our son without going insane. I really feel like we just hit the happy-baby jackpot for the month, as Sal always seems to have a day or two a month that he is just the poster child for easy babies. The other 29 days, he is still a generally happy baby, but we definitely have our moments within a 24 hour period of pure meltdown madness.

Surely one of those meltdowns would occur as we took flight, right? As luck have it, he had his poster child day on the day we boarded that United flight with a few hundred passengers all crossing their fingers that their seat assignment wasn't next to that couple with the baby.

Still, it helped to be prepared.

I can't take credit for all of the tips I am about to share with you nor can I promise that our next flight home won't be a disaster, but being prepared with the following information and items before taking flight with our pre-mobile infant helped a ton.

We took three carry on bags between the three of us. One large diaper bag, Nick's briefcase and one small rolling suitcase filled to the brim with baby gear. I put just enough items in the diaper bag that they were easy to grab from the overhead bin, and the suitcase enough clothes and necessities to last Sal a week. No really, we packed it so even if our checked luggage went missing ( it's happened before..Remember Nick's last trip to China when our suitcase full of formula and clothes for Sal got picked up by the wrong person, and took 4 days to get returned?) Sal had enough clothes, diapers, formula to last a week.

My must have items:
- Enfamil formula pouches
- One piece sleepers
- Halo Sleep sack swaddler
- Boppy nursing pillow ( they make travel ones, but I used my regular)
- Pacifier on a leash
- Clorox Anti Bac wipes
- Bottle of water ( purchased in the terminal)
- bottle
- nursing cover
- 2-3 small teether toys

In a gallon size ziploc:
-4 diapers
- Arm and Hammer diaper disposal bags
- wipes
- disposable changing pad

I both bottle and breastfeed Sal, therefore, I boarded the plane prepared with formula in case we had a difficult time nursing. He's been way more into playing than nursing lately, no matter how quiet or dark I make the room. I'm glad I did, because I made the rookie mistake of nursing him before the plane took off the tarmac, and I was worried about his ears popping, so we quickly made a bottle and let him drink it as we gained altitude. He was a well fed baby that flight.

The easiest way to dress him for the flight was a one piece footed sleeper. On our test run flight, I had him in a onesie, socks and pants. Try changing that in a lavatory. No thanks! Lesson learned. The one piece sleeper unsnaps and stays on, so there is no chance of losing an article of clothing on the bathroom floor.

We no longer swaddle him for naps or nighttime, but he has always slept extremely well when swaddled, so I brought along our sleepsack with the wings since he would inevitably be sleeping on our laps, and unable to roll over in our arms.

We did request a bassinet, but when it arrived, we said no thanks--for some of you, it may work, but I couldn't get over the thought of putting my baby in a duffel bag, which was essentially what the airline bassinets look like. This is where my boppy served dual function. Not only did it make nursing easier, but Sal was able to sleep on our laps on top of it.

Sal is not a pacifier kid, but it did help on the decent. Having it on a leash just made it easy to keep track of, and off of the dirty airplane seats and floor.

The Clorox wipes are my best friend (especially now here in China which is not the cleanest place). I used them to wipe down the dining tray and armrests and pretty much anything I touched, or would come in contact with Sal.

Having a few of his favorite toys helped. They entertained him for a few minutes each time I pulled them out.

To help with diaper changes, I put a disposable changing pad, 2 diapers, wipes, arm and hammer trash bags and a onesie in a gallon ziploc. This way, all we had to do was grab the ziploc and take it to the bathroom rather than lug a huge diaper bag into an already small space.

We did buy gate check bags, and bagged both the carseat carrier (left the base at home. Chicco carseats can be used with a car safety belt only), and the chicco caddy stroller while in the terminal. Nick gate checked them as he boarded, leaving me to board with Sal in my arms.

The best advice we were given, and that worked for us, was to have Nick pre-board , and Sal and I hung back until 99% of the passengers had boarded. Nick had a chance to get my seat set up with my boppy and nursing cover, and made a bottle of formula as backup. All Sal and I had to do was board, find our seat, buckle up and sit down. Boarding last allowed for less time sitting on the tarmac waiting for takeoff. I'd much rather he scream in the terminal than sitting on the tarmac waiting for others to board.

Seriously, boarding last was the best move, ever.

Remember, most people have children. Most have been in your shoes a time or two, and will most likely sympathize with you if your child goes nuts. If not, offer to buy them a drink or two in an attempt to make them pass out and stop with the stink eye looks they flash your way.


We're proud to say that our family has been re-united.
Beaver joined us today after one week in quarantine. Despite a bit of
fur loss, he seems to have his appetite and is cautiously exploring his
new digs. He has already found the window seat in our office that looks
over the courtyard below. Welcome home, Beaver!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

moving in

We spent Saturday at our new place, unpacking suitcases and moving in. Everything in China seems to take longer to accomplish than it would in the States. Perhaps it's got something to do with our inability to speak the language ( but google translate works awesome!), or because we rely on a driver to get us to and from our destinations. Gone are the days of hopping in my car and driving over the overpass to Target to buy the deoderant I forgot on my last trip over there. Over here, that same 20 minute errand is sure to take us at least an hour. Well, at least for now, until we get used to the lay of the land.

We are still living out of a hotel until we get all of our utilities & their respective payments set up (aiming for Monday). In order to pay for utilities from automatic withdrawl, we must first set up a bank account at a Chinese bank. Easier said than done. We have been told by the relocation agent, that one particular branch has a man who speaks English and can help us. The other branches do not. Crossing our fingers he works on Monday!

Until then, here's a peak at what we were able to accomplish so far...The apartment came furnished with everything but nursery furniture, which we purchased & assembled over the weekend. We are still working on purchasing the rest of the linens and necessities.

Master Bedroom. So far all we have purchased were sheets and a light quilt from IKEA. I am still searching for a memory foam mattress topper to make the bed sleepable. We were spoiled by a memory foam bed back at home, and it will be hard to match. Chinese beds are traditionally hard, and lie on platforms like the frame pictured. I actually love the bedroom furniture that the room was furnished with. Dark wood and my own night stand! The bed has storage drawers underneath, so NZ and I think we can function with just those drawers and a single closet to share. Wish us luck!

Office/ Guest Room... We asked for a desk, bookcase and sofa bed, and this is what the owner provided. The sofa bed is super comfortable. Almost more so than our bed! My plan for this room is to buy a fullsize sheet at IKEA to cover the sofa ( to protect from the lovely Beaver who shall be joining our family after his stint in quarantine on Wednesday), as well as some fabric from IKEA of which I will make some pillow cases for the throws. I've already unpacked Sal's small library into one of the cubbies on the bookshelf, and added a Chinese nesting doll that Dameng's wife gave him our very first day. We're learning that giving gifts is a big part of Chinese culture.

Sal's far I am super happy with his room. We may do some more furniture moving since I am not wild about having a changing table next to curtains-- the boy has a good reach, and poor aim--leading me to believe he may shower them with a tidal wave of pee during changing time, or more than likely, grab them with his slobberific hands and stain the silk. ( who puts silk curtains in a baby's room?!). I've already outfitted his crib with a sheet I made back home, and am on the lookout for fabric to sew more sheets (oh--and a sewing machine to sew said fabric!).

Kitchen..It's tiny but it gets the job done! We bought a pot and a fry pan. Utensils, cutting boards and a knife. The plan is to add as little as possible to this tiny kitchen. There is no oven or dishwasher, so I guess I am thankful that baking is out of the question for now ( we may add a small countertop oven at some point). Otherwise, I'd have tons of dishes to wash.

The refrigerator & storage room. Right now it's full of boxes from unpacking our new refrigerator. The relocation agent told us to put our rubbish in the front entry hall, and when we wake up it will be gone. We have a pile out front as a trial because it seems odd to us that someone will actually come to our floor and pick up our trash. We plan on adding more shelving like the one picture nest to the fridge, for dry goods etc.

So,there you have it. The " in progress " shots. I'll be sure to do a grand tour of the completed place once we're settled.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Home Sweet IKEA

NZ and I were lucky enough to find an IKEA in Wuxi, which convienently opened just 2 days prior to our arrival. Nick had never experienced IKEA, so I warned him about the instructions and how frustrating assembly can sometimes be. We ended up buying Sal's nursery furniture there, as I fell in love with the simplicity of the SANDVIK crib and changing station.

Nick had no problem what-so-ever following the paint by number directions, and had Sal's new crib up in no time!

We spent most of today unpacking bags and assembling the nursery.

Sal spent much of his day in his brand new crib catching up on some lost sleep.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Shopping adventures

We set out this afternoon with Frederic, a colleague of NZ's who has been living in Wuxi for the last 6 years to have him show us where the best places to buy housewares and day-to-day necessities were. He took us to a pizzeria, which turned out to be Papa Johns, a totally American pizza chain. Only, in China, Papa Johns is a sit down, dine in restaurant. Crazy, right? The pizza was delish. A taste of home.

From Papa johns we loaded up in Frederic's car, cranked the A/c ( it's a very muggy 90 degrees farenheit today) and set out for METRo, which is the equivalent of COSTCO or Sam's club in the U.S.A. One must have a business account to gain membership.

We parked the car and met with Frederic's interpreter and a driver from his Company who brought a van to help transport our purchases to our apartment. This my friends, was our entourage. Five adults and a baby, shopping together for housewares. It was nice to have Frederic's advice on what brands of toothpaste to avoid (bleach?!) as well as Irene's assistance in dechiphering the difference between shampoo, conditioner and lotion. Lord knows I'd have a hissy fit in the shower if I had unknowingly purchased three conditioners instead of one shampoo, one conditioner and one lotion. It could (and probably will) totally happen.

Our biggest obstacle today, aside from deciding if a king size bed was the same as a 2 meter mattress, were Sal's fans. What was so endearing the first 24 hours has quickly become my pet peeve. People just can not leave their hands off of him. We were in an aisle making silverware decisions, and I had just gotten Sal to sleep. I had my hand on the stroller, but turned my back to help NZ choose between two patterns and when I turned around just seconds later, a Chinese woman had her face wedged in under the canopy of his stroller, and was touching his face!

I turned into mama Bear and said a very clear "no!" and pulled his canopy back down, but the damage to his only afternoon nap was done. He spent the rest of our METRO shopping trip on NZ's shoulder so that he could police the touchy McTouchersons. It's seriously a major issue we will have to overcome. I think they mean well, but never in a million years would that type of personal space invasion take place in the states.

Boundaries do not exist here.

This is clear.

From METRO we made it over to IKEA which just opened a couple of days ago. For those who are wondering, IKEA in China is just as confusing as IKEA in the U.S.A.. We felt right at home. We ended up buying most of our linens and bath goods there, as well as a crib and changing table for Sal. I'm not too wild about the mattress we found, but it was the firmest one available. Nick found a super neat rug for Sals room, that has a little road printed on it. I imagine in a year or two he will be driving little cars over it.

Right now, Sal and I are back at the hotel, in our nice air conditioned room, taking what I hope will be a nice long afternoon nap to make up for the two he got slighted on earlier today.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


We've now been in Wuxi for two and a half days. One of my biggest worries of traveling with an infant was how jetlag would affect us. We are 15 hours ahead of California over here, meaning night is day and day is night. Not the best situation while sleep training...but, we're doing well.

We all slept well the first night, with just two wakings by Sal. One of which Nick took, and the other one I manned up for. It really wasn't bad. He would basically eat, then fuss a little and go back to sleep.

Yesterday, we put him down at his usual nap times, and he slept easily. We made sure not to let him sleep longer than a normal nap, which was hard to do..all this time I have been hoping for the day he'd nap longer than an hour, and now, here we were, WAKING a sleeping Sal after a mere hour and a half nap. I had heard this was the way to go when trying to get babies situated with a drastic time change.

I think it's working.

We're tring to keep his schedule the same as it was at home, even though the world has spun around on him. We kept our routine of diaper change, sleep sack, feed and bed for nap time, and bath time before bed at night.

I do admit though, that Last night, he was up every two hours. I can't really complain over one night of sleep difficulties considering how much we've asked of the little guy.

Anyone have any other tips on helping a baby through jetlag?

A Dorothy Moment

Boarding the plane with Sal in one arm and our passports in the other, I thought to myself, here we go. Sal just sat there in my arms, gnawing on his little fists as he always does--blissfully unaware that he was about to take flight and call some foreign land "home". As I looked at his little grin through my teary eyes, I  announced to him, " Honey, we're going to your new home." and asked, " Are you ready to move to China, baby?"

He smiled again, and it just melted my heart.
It wasn't more than twenty minutes after takeoff that I had myself my very own "We're not in Kansas California Anymore" moment.

As Nick and I were applauding ourselves for having the best baby ever ( no crying???Really, Sal?! Are you okay, dude?), I looked to my right, across the plane to see a mother struggling to get her toddler under control. When I say "under control", I mean, trying to get a little girl who is STANDING on the armrests of her seat, bouncing back and forth on the seat back in front of her ( which, mind you, someone was politely sitting in and trying to ignore the constant earthquake this kid was producing) and screaming bloody murder at the thought of calming down--I mean, isn't standing on armrests like totally appropriate airplane etiquette?

I started to sympathize with this mother, as I saw a man next to her, presumably the little girls father, just cozy up against the window with a newspaper and pillow..
...that was, of course, until I witnessed the mother rip her kid off the seat by the arm, and wallop her across the chest, then turn and spank her.

Spank her hard.
In broad daylight.
In front of judgey judgey strangers like myself.
yet, no one even batted an eyelash, except for myself.

And, this is when I realized that we're not in Kansas anymore,
 or California,
or the US for that matter.
All the politically correct, American child rearing norms went out the door with the closing of the airplane cabin doors. It's going to take some getting used to--seeing children get disciplined in a way that would cause most of us Americans to report to CPS.

This afternoon we had the pleasure of meeting up with a business aquaintance of NZ's and his wife, both Chinese Nationals. During our visit, I fed Salvatore, and noted that it was naptime. I excused myself to go put him down, and when I walked out a minute later, leaving Sal in his room to cry it out, I heard his wife rattle off in Mandarin to him. I KNEW it must be something to do with Sal's crying and a cultural difference.

 I was right.
He explained to me that in China, it is customary for mothers to rock their babies to sleep, no matter how old they are. We went back and forth a few minutes using him as an interpeter, and once she heard of our reasoning, she said she thought that they way we do it might be easier on Chinese mothers if they'd try it. Phew! Dodged a bullet on that one. I was worried that only 24 hours into our arrival and I had already done something to be labeled a spoiled American.

I have a feeling that these are just the first of many Dorothy moments over here.
Sal, we're not in California anymore.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Just a quick post from the iPhone, as we've found blogger To be blocked from our current server at the hotel Were currently residing at. I hope to get a working VPN from Wuxi once we arrive to our apartment later this Week. We are currently in shanghai on a rather humid thunder Stormy day. Thoroughly enjoying the a/c! Will write more as soon as I have a real keyboard And blogger access!