Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Baby beaters!

Why they call the white ribbed tank tops "wife beaters", I don't know, but how could I resist buying Sal some "baby beaters" to wear this summer?

He tried one out this morning, and I think I died from cuteness overload.

The big Buddha belly poking through just finishes out the "look".

The peddler

Sal and I took a quick walk over to our local produce market this afternoon, and as always, he scored some free food. Today's bounty of "free-because-I'm-so-good-looking" food included a cucumber (peeled..such service!) and banana. Our vegetable seller LOVES Xiǎodìdi (shao-tee-tee) "little brother", which is what Sal gets called by pretty much anyone who stops to say hello.

On our way out of the produce market, we passed a man on a loud speaker. If there is one thing I can say --Chinese have NO volume control. Louder is better. He who speaks louder wins. It's sensory overload at times. Drawn to the man on his loud speaker, I took a little detour towards him, but stopped dead in my tracks when I saw what he was pedaling.

Here's a hint....

If I had anything ailing me, this man could fix it with his magic potions!

More specifically... snake potions.

Complete with live snakes.

He started to walk towards me with a snake and that's where I drew the line.

Uh uh. No way.

Maaaaaaaaajor bu Yao!

Monday, April 22, 2013

(H)our life in a day

Happy Monday!

It's officially "my-sister-is-coming-on -Friday- omg-I-cant-contain-my-excitement" week.

So while we await Friday, here's an hour by hour recap of our Monday in waiting.

Here's to hoping this week is not the "longest week ever", so Friday can get here already!

8:15 packing up the diaper bag
9:15 IKEA cinnamon roll while we wait for the store to open
10:15 shopping for bed linens
11:15 back home..looks like someone needs a diaper change

12:15 lunchtime and emails
1:15 nap time and workout with Jillian
2:15 sippy cup sanitizing
3:15 crossing the street to get to the produce market

4:15 don't I feed this kid? Looks like snack time.
5:15 walking with a friend before the downpour came
6:15 dinner for three
7:15 bedtime for the boy

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

FIFTEEN months

With all the visitors and travel, I totally lost track of the days and just realized that Sal hit 15 months while in Japan.

What can I say about Sal at 15 months?

He is. On.the.move.

He is all boy. Rough and tumble, loves wrestling with his dad and wants to climb anything and everything. He loves "helping" me move the laundry from the dryer to the basket, and is pretty darn curious about how cat food tastes.

He has also started trying to share. Goldfish crackers, not cat food. No wonder I am struggling to lose the last 7 lbs. He likes to stand in front of us and feed us goldfish/pretzels/crackers one-by-one. There is no telling the boy no. He just keeps shoving them in your face unless you get up and physically move.

He said goodbye to his twelve month clothes and the last of the onesies (sniff-sniff), and also got a bigger pair of shoes this month. I ordered his first pair of VANS in size 5.0 so he can be like his dad. He is still learning how to walk as well in those as he does with his Soft soled cowboy boots, but he is falling less and less with each day of practice. Oh yeah--in case I forgot to mention, he's officially a walker now. He just took off one day, and hasn't slowed down since!

What else?

He welcomed his grandma to town and showed her around. He got spoiled with hugs, kisses and game playing with grandma Valorie.

He earned his first black eye complete with stitches, four of them to be exact--by falling on my bedside table. Chalk up our second trip to a Chinese hospital in 2013.

He slept through his first earthquake. We don't know how he did, but he didn't even stir during a 6.3 magnitude quake while we were in Japan.

He went to his first aquarium and saw all the marine life.

He got to taste a chocolate Poky stick, his first corn dog and his very own Easter cookie!

He will fork anything he can and get it into his mouth. He's got skills. We're still working on yogurt and beans on the spoon. He has trouble with the dipping part of spoon eating.

Sal's favorite toys these days are his blocks, which have a lid with shape cutouts to put the blocks through. He also has a stacking donuts toy that he can stack with precision. Cars are still popular but have taken a back seat to his "Guess who" and "Go Dog, Go!" books.

When asked, "Sal, where are your shoes?" he will go stand by his shoes and try to slip his foot in. He also started signing the word "more" this past week, and I'm pretty sure he said Jiā (home) tonight as our driver brought us home from grocery shopping.

Chinese, English, and signing?

Pretty darn impressive, Sal.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Osaka trip

NZ had a work deal to attend in Osaka this past week, so Sal and I tagged along for the trip and another stamp in our passports. I'm a bit envious of Sal, at all of 14 months old, having just three fewer stamps than his mama. Although he won't remember much of the travel during his early years, I hope that he gains a sense of adventure and a can-do attitude about traveling to new places.

Standing on seats. Totally appropriate when you're ONE.
I couldn't have exchanged Sal for a better kid on our travel day to Japan. From the 5:00a departure from Wuxi, a two hour drive to Shanghai, plus time in the airport lounge, and then the hour and a half flight to Osaka, he was a perfect angel. Before anyone goes hating on me, just recall my last flight from the USA with him--I've earned at least one easy flight after dealing with that shitstorm. It was "enough to make me question ever flying back to the states again, until our contract is over", bad. So, I cashed in my easy flight card this time. Could've helped that the seat between NZ and I was open, so I was more relaxed about him bouncing all over the place. He was pleased as punch sitting like a big kid, reading his books, and pulling clothespins off himself.  A while back we discovered that pinching small clothespins on his clothes is a great sit-still activity. He sits there pulling them off and handing them back to us to put back on, so the clothespins made the trip with us.

I know, we're weird brilliant, right?

We spent our first afternoon walking the surround of the Agora Regency-Sakai. The smell of the ocean air was such a nice change from smog ridden Wuxi. We saw truly blue skies for the first time in months, and the sight of the ocean was a little taste of "home". Growing up in Southern California, one becomes accustomed to having the ocean in their backyard. I will never take it for granted again.

Osaka Bay
The ocean is home.

On Thursday, Sal and I went out on our own. We set off on foot, and walked for two hours. We saw a few temples, a shopping mall, a grocery store selling fresh sashimi ( we watched as the chef made it to order), and ended up at a local park, where Sal made a few friends from a local preschool and terrorized the pigeons. We had passed the preschool group on our walk, as they were being pushed in what looked to be a pack-n-play on wheels. They all ended up at the park with us, and one of the teachers spoke English so she practiced by conversing with me. I found it refreshing to not have people staring, touching or hovering over us while out and about. This is so opposite of what my day-to-day normal is these days.

 I think I just needed a breather from it all.

Playing at the Park
Temple Guard
On Friday, we explored some more, this time we made it over to Sakaihigashi station and a huge seven level department store. We found roast beef at the deli on the main floor and then ventured up the elevator to the upper levels. 
On the seventh floor,  I thought I had died and gone to Heaven.

Swoon. Japanese fabric.
                             I took NZ back with me the same evening and browsed to my hearts content.

Right before my very eyes, I saw mounds of quilting fabric. It's been months since I laid my eyes on fabric. Sal and I picked out some to send home to his auntie, and then headed back home for nap time. When NZ finished up his conference, he met up with us for sushi & beers.

Sushi dinner date
Saturday morning at we were woken up by the buzzing of our cellphones and the eerie feeling of being on a boat, all the while knowing that we were not on a boat, but instead experiencing a 6.3 earthquake while on the 23rd floor of a hotel. Our cellphones were alerting us of the earthquake as it was happening.  We quickly dressed once the rolling and rumbling stopped and called the front desk. They advised we stay put for the time being, so we did. The elevators were out all morning, but we finally made it out around 8:45a.m. headed for the Osaka aquarium.

As NZ says, "we can mark surviving a 6.3 quake in Japan off the bucket list"
 To get to the aquarium, we used google maps and figured out that we would have three subway changes to get to our destination. It felt like out own version of " The Amazing Race" as we stood in front of ticket kiosks written in Japanese and stared up at the criss crossing railway lines. With the help of some nice Japanese people we figured out each railway exchange and ticket counter.

waiting for the train bound for Namba
What I wasn't prepared for though, were the bone crushing, take your breath away, pack-em-in-like-sardines railway cars. There are official train pusher on-ners (yes that's a word) that stand on the platform and push people in. At one point, I had to pass Sal up to Nick because we got packed in so tightly that I thought he was going to get crushed.

Mama, I can't breathe! Packed in like sardines.
You'd better believe we high fived each other when we reached our destination.

My handsome ol man celebrating our successful train transfers
Here fishy fishy, I wanna eat you!
The aquarium was awesome. It's the second biggest in the world. NZ and I loved it. Sal mostly loved all the people, and paid minimal attention to the fish. He was on display for photos just as he is back in Wuxi. They had fish, penguins, sharks, dolphins, turtles, otters, sea lions and everything imaginable from all over the world.  If you ever make it to Osaka, kids or not, it's worth your time to make a trip to the aquarium. Super impressive.

Showing off his ring prowess on the (much less crowded) train home
All in all it was a fabulous trip, a memorable experience, and just what the Doctor ordered.
Blue skies, ocean breeze and an earthquake for spontaneity.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday, Bloody Sunday


This morning, NZ and his mama left to Lingshan to see the big Buddha. Sal and I opted to stay home, since he is fighting a cold, and we have a big week ahead. As we usually do most mornings, we headed to my bedroom to make the bed. I had all the pillows on the bed, except for one big bolster pillow that Sal was playing with.

A pillow? For a toy? Nice choice son. Totally harmless.

Whack! (Followed by cries)

I walked over to give him some love (he falls a lot more with all this walking business), and that's when I saw it.


I'm no stranger to lacerations, having worked for a plastic surgeon. I'm accustomed to frantic calls, and the advice my boss would give about applying pressure. I went into action, holding my screaming child, talking in a calm voice and strategically cradling his gashed eye with a clean towel to keep the pressure. I held it a few minutes, then slowly peeled it back, and I could see that it was pretty deep.

I said to myself, "Shiiiiiiiiiiit. It does need stitches."

I reluctantly called NZ who promptly had the driver turn around and head back home. NZ called his assistant who translates for us ( she's awesome), and she agreed to meet us at the Hospital. NZ and his mom got back here, we loaded up Sal and headed to the hospital.

He got checked in, then taken to a room where we were told he needed 3-4 sutures. The doctor said he didn't need novacaine because novacaine hurts. What the???! Are you effing kidding me? This is a BABY. Not a man. A little baby that is going to flip the eff out anyways, so why not just inject the novacaine, so the multiple suturing that needs to be done is pain free?

After some insistence, NZ got his way with the surgeon who agreed to proceed with novacaine. We were instructed to put him on the gurney, head pointed toward the surgeon.

Okay, but what about that hair on the gurney? This is supposed to be a sanitary procedure. Pretty sure that someone else's stray hair is not sanitary. I pulled out a brand new disposable changing pad and we laid that under Sal.

We both agreed that NZ was better suited to restrain the boy so he straddled the gurney and was able to keep Sal's arms down and neck stable. Apparently, this wasn't going to work for the surgeon....we got the, "in china....." talk, and were told that NZ must stand at Sal's head, me hold his arms down and the translator hold his legs. I'm sorry, but three adults to restrain one child is overboard.

Sal flipped the eff out (did I call it or what?)

In went the novacaine.

And without hesitation, or ANY amount of waiting for the novacaine to set in, the surgeon went to town suturing. My heart still cringes at the thought of her piercing that skin before he was numb. Once the novacaine set in, the last two sutures were cake. He calmed down a bit, and before we knew it, it was over.

Or so we thought.

..and then came....." in china......".

In china, lacerations are not released from hospital without first having a tetanus shot. No matter whether your child is up to date on their DTAP immunizations. So, we agreed it was probably a good idea. We went, paid for the tetanus, then took the fapiao (receipt) to the pharmacy dept, who gave us the medicine, which we then took to an injection room.

In that communal injection room, we then learn that they won't give Sal his tetanus shot until they do a "test" on his wrist. The test is another injection of a little medicine under his skin, then a thirty minute wait to see if the bubble goes away.

Sound familiar?

Yeah- a TB test. Wtf?!

At this point we just want out of there. Due to translation difficulties, we didn't know it was a TB test until she was administering it and I realized that she wasn't trying the tetanus on him, but instead doing a TB test! NZ and I were boiling at this point. It's not enough to just say "in china we do this and it is good". I need the who's, what's, why's and when's answered. In this instance, we couldn't leave until he had the tetanus shot, so what's done is done. Thirty minutes later, we took him in, no bubble on the wrist, so the nurse gave him a tetanus shot. Then.....again, "wait for thirty minutes and come back."

It was a long, long morning of waiting.

Poor kid.

If there is one thing I can say, he proved his toughness today. Stitches sans novacaine, having two injections on top of that, and then flashing us a big smile when all was said and done.

Sometimes I think its harder on us as parents then it is on the little guys. I think that as Sal's parents, we dealt with our first "emergency" quite calmly, cooley and collectively......especially for dealing with it in a foreign country knowing very little mandarin. We are so far our of our comfort zone it's not even funny...but we're doing it. The world hasn't ended just because things are not "the same" as we expect them to be. Our son got medical care, although marginal quality at best, and we are back home safe and sound.

Now if you'll excuse me, I will be padding every single straight edge in the house.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Be back soon

....grandma's here.

Please excuse the lack of blog posts while we show her around our 'hood.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Money grows on trees

In the last two weeks, we have lost a couple pairs of socks, a couple hats and almost lost a shoe while strolling down the streets of Wuxi. Sal strips his clothes off with ninja like precision and stealth. Off and away they go, un-noticed by his mama as she pushes right along.

We've been stopped a couple of times by someone yelling "ting ting ting!" and I'm getting used to turning around to find them holding his bear beanie and running it towards me for the return. Other times it's a friend who notices that "Sal only has one sock on...." I have attempted to trace my steps back a block or two to look for the missing sock-sometimes successful, sometimes not.

Maybe he just finds it funny when the Chinese grandmas shout at me because he doesn't have clothes on, or maybe he thinks money grows on trees.

I'm beginning to think the latter, as we have also had some kitchen pantry items go missing.

Namely, a tub of coconut oil and jar of peanut butter.

A brand new tub of hard to find, somewhat expensive coconut oil (I'm not bitter or anything).....

I searched high and low for my coconut oil, and am convinced there is only one place it could have gone. Right into the makeshift trash can that lies next to the pantry shelf where Sal Likes to play. Same place the peanut butter went missing from.

This morning, my suspicion was confirmed as I caught him tossing a brand new bottle of mustard into the box. I caught him in time, and saved the mustard from an early death, but I am pretty sure he tossed my oil and our peanut butter in there.

He may just need to get a job so he learns that money does not, in fact, grow on trees. Or, since he is still just a little guy, maybe I just need to make the pantry off limits all the time. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

We thought we lost the hat pictured below, only to find it on our walk home!