Wednesday, May 22, 2013

SIXTEEN months

Ok, so I'm over a week late on this post. 

Sal turned 16 months old just a few days after we arrived in California. Pretty cool considering he turned 15 months in Japan, 16 months in the USA and will turn 17 months in yet another country when we head to Indonesia next month for holiday.

At 16 months, Sal:

-weighs 25 lbs
- is 31" tall (up for debate-he was measured in China and his height varies by 2 cm depending on which nurse measures  him). Let's call it "ballpark 31 inches"
- wears size 5 shoes and 18 month clothing
- talks non-stop, and responds to questions, but still in his own babble. He says "uh-oh" and "yah" a lot.
- has started blowing kisses and waving goodbye at the appropriate times. 
- uses his right hand for eating (loves using forks) and coloring. Prior to month 16 he did everything left handed.
- loves trucks,or anything with wheels...and balls. He says "ball" quite clearly.
- mastered going down stairs, thanks to practice at grandpa Dennis' tri-level house
- tries to jump 
- loves the  "Talking Tom" app on iPad ( he got his first taste of iPad during our flight over to the US)
- eats chicken! After months of turning his nose up at chicken ( I don't blame him, Chinese chicken is blech), he devoured half a chicken breast at dinner. Add to his repertoire, pork chops and carne asada and we've got ourselves a carnivorous little guido. 

We spent month 16 on the go, and I have to say, he is one tough cookie. He has adapted much quicker and better than I had anticipated. Sure, flying with a toddler is NEVER cakewalk..anyone who claims it to be so is LYING. But, all in all, he did well on the flights we took, and has really adjusted well to sleeping in new places and in different beds. We have used a sleep sheep noise machine like our lives depend on it since birth, and I about had a coronary when I realized I had forgotten it last weekend at my grandma's. To my surprise, not only did he not protest the pack and play sleeping arrangement ( he barely fits lengthwise), but he also did well without his sheep! I think mama depends on the sheep more than Sal. 


One of my favorite things he has started doing is putting his arm over my shoulder and around my neck when I hold him before bed. I feel like it's his attempt at a hug. His little clutches are irresistible and I just have to give him a little extra squeeze before laying him down. It's so stinking sweet.

I love his many are just a few..

Fierce face

Silly smiling face

Serious face


Among his favorite things  to play with are brooms & dustpans. He can not resist sweeping when he sees a broom. He has my permission to sweep his little heart out-just hoping this phase lasts well into his teenage years! He'll make a good husband someday with his sweeping skills.

Sal also got his first taste of running free in a real back yard and I have to say, he was in heaven. We've spent many days and evenings just running amok in the yard, playing in a wading pool and blowing bubbles. If grass stained knees are any indication of fun, he's having a blast.

He's just plain awesome.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Life's a beach

Ahhh, this kid's got the life.

He absolutely loved playing with his cousins at the beach...eating sand and digging with the shovel (thank you cousin Miles for teaching Sal how to use the shovel!).

If there's one thing this trip home has solidified for me, is that home is where our family is. Spending the day with my sister in law and the boys is something that I have missed dearly. Watching Sal follow them around with a huge grin on his face just melts my heart. 

She's FOUR

On Saturday, our daughter would have been four.

Four years! Where does time go? Some days it feels like just yesterday that I was calling my husband on my way to the hospital uttering the words "she's dead. She died" and wondering how on earth life would go on. 

Four years later, life has been going on.

I am so grateful for the time that has passed. Most days are great days, filled with happiness and loving my life as a mom to Sal. There are some situations and comments that still take me back to the darker days of grief, but I seem to bounce back from those moments much faster. Instead of tear filled days, I give myself "moments".

This year, we were a day late in "celebrating" her memory, and NZ wasn't able to partake in the release, but Sal and I found a beautiful grassy park to send two balloons off to Heaven for Denise. We went to the party store and I let Sal pick out a balloon (he chose green with stars). 

He's too young to know what we are doing, but I think this is a good tradition for our family on her birthday. I picked out another balloon, and to my surprise the clerk told us the balloons were free because Sal was so stinking cute. I so wanted to tell the guy what they were for, but instead got teary eyed and extra thankful as we headed out the door to find a special place to release them. 

Someday, Sal will have questions, and we will answer them as they come. The loss of Denise has shaped us as parents, right down to our decision making, our vigilance for safety and gratitude for each day with a child here on earth. We want Sal to know just how much of a miracle he is for our family.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Santa Barbara weekend

Sal and I went up to Santa Barbara for the weekend and spent time with my family. My dad and his girlfriend drove thirteen hours to see us! We're really starting to miss NZ, and the time difference doesn't help matters--but we do talk at least once a day. One more week til he joins us in California.

Here's our weekend recap...

We took a few walks at the harbor, watched a boat get launched and soaked up the ocean air. 
Grandpa Jet and Sal

We played with our cousin Wilson, and our new buddy Shane. Wilson and Sal are exactly one month apart, and Shane just turned the big ONE. It was great to get the babies together and let them play. I look forward to many more cousin dates in the future. 

Sal and Wilson

Shane and his grandma Maia, Sal and mama. Our families have been friends for two generations, and it looks like we're fostering a third generation of friendship with the boys.

On Saturday, I had my first solo mall shopping experience in 16months! Well, solo as in kidless. I brought my dad's girlfriend with me and we spent four hours shopping while Sal spent some quality time with his auntie Steph and uncle Julio. It was sooooo nice to wander from store to store without rushing. I even found a bikini for Bali. I've never loathed swimsuit shopping before, but now that I understand why so many women have such an emotional meltdown over it. I've finally hit my pre-pregnancy weight (took 16 months), but uhm, things don't look quite the same. Shhhhht ain't easy! I'm beyond grateful that I found one without a screaming child in tow.

Sal played in a swimming pool and had a ton of fun while I was shopping...

Uncle Juls supervising

With grams

With uncle J-rod

With auntie Steph, grandpa Jet and Mary

As the weekend wound down, we barbecued some chicken (oh ow I've missed good chicken!), adding in sides of corn and watermelon. My sister made some awesome ice cream sandwiches with ice cream from Rori's creamery in Montecito. If you're ever in the area, stop in. It's divine!

My dad left early Sunday morning for the long drive home, and I missed him as soon as his truck pulled away. No matter how old I get, its always hard to say goodbye to my parents.

Sal and I made our way back to Ventura County after an eventful morning. As I was loading up the car, he went toward the street and my grams tried to stop and re-route him. Unfortunately, they both took quite a spill and grams ended up in urgent care with some impressive looking wounds. Sal fared much better in the fall, as he walked away with some road rash to the scalp and some donut holes as a consolation (and don't- fall -asleep -on -the -drive -home -in -case -you -rung -your -bell, please please please, baby!) gift. 

I'm happy to report that although our Sunday started off with a scare, Grams is going to be okay, and better come up with a good story to tell! 

One week of vacation over, two to go.

Life is good.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Road Ready

Sal got some new wheels!

We sold our Quinny Buzz and traded up for a stroller with a little more oomph. the Buzz served us well, but it was time to move on. I'm a bit of a stroller fanatic. I love to research strollers and figure out which one has the most "pros" vs "cons" for our unique living situation. After moooonths (just ask my husband), of going back and forth between the Britax B ready, Uppababy and baby jogger city select, I decided the BJCS was the best option for life in China. 

My stroller is essentially my car.

I depend on it daily. I travel on foot almost everywhere I go, which requires a comfortable ride for Sal since he spends at least an hour to two hours in it per day. The streets in Wuxi are a mix of concrete with sink holes, blacktop and cobblestone walkways...which, in my opinion require large tires for the best ride. The city select had the most substantial rear tires of the three strollers. 

I do most of my grocery getting in my stroller, and the Quinny Buzz had a small storage basket (smallest, ev-er!). I usually ended up carrying bags back using a mommy hook on the handlebar. I knew that my next stroller needed to have substantial storage space. The city select has a HUGE basket, as well as a pocket on the back of the seat for items like cellphones and keys. I also like that if we use it as a double stroller, dangling feet won't affect the storage space or muck up whatever is down below as many of the inline doubles with a jump seat do. It has an easy two handed, one step fold with the main seat still attached. I am not sure that the city select has the easiest or most compact fold of the three. In fact, it barely fits in the trunk of my rental car (Chevy cruze) width wise. However, the size while folded is not a big issue for us, because we rarely fold and transport our stroller by car. We have an umbrella stroller for travel. Our daily use stroller usually stays opened and lives in our office.

My only concern was the weight, since we often have to lift our strollers over barricades. The  weight as a single is 28 lbs, but I compared it to my Buzz, and there's only a 1lb difference. The uppababy vista and britax B ready weighed less (approx 26 lbs) but the necessity for tires outweighed any weight concerns I had.

So far, I'm loving it.

Granted, we're still in California where doorways are standard width, sidewalks all have ramps, and the pavement is smooth. I'm interested to see how it will do when we hit the streets of China again.

The best thing about the BJCS is all 16 configurations, including the option to add an additional carseat carrier, bassinet or fullsize seat to make it a double if we're fortunate to have another baby Zentil in the future.

Anyone else have this stroller? What kind of Rain cover have you used? Did you purchase accessories? Share!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day

Surprise! We're in California!

Yep. We tagged along with my sister on her return flight, and in a few weeks, NZ will join us out here while he works from the home office for a week. Totally unexpected, and unplanned ( we booked my ticket just 36hours in advance), and totally great!

I've been a bit bummed out on China in general lately. Not my friends, I love em all. I love the support network we have, the play dates, the outings....but China, just...... That's the only way I know how to put it. It isn't a horrible place, it's just so difficult to accomplish anything. A trip to the grocery store literally takes all morning. Now that the summer heat and humidity are arriving, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to tag along with my sister (and have a spare set of hands for the boy) for the flight. 

With the short notice on our trip, I decided NOT to tell my mama.

Imagine her surprise on Sunday when Sal walked through her kitchen door. I hung back behind to see what her reaction was to seeing her grandson walking through her house. She was floored. She thought she was dreaming. It was awesome to be able to surprise her, especially since she shared Mother's Day with her birthday this year. 

                             sal checks the swell. 
          Verdict? Flat. Dad isn't missing anything but us.

We started our day at a walk at my favorite beach, followed by a trip to the harbor with my grandma Dottie, then back to my mom's house in the evening for a BBQ and outdoor play time. Sal learned that the fountain my mom has in her yard makes the BEST kiddy pool around. 

He was all up in it, trying to climb the tiers to the top. He also got to check out his grandma's field of fruit trees, and fell in love particularly with the tangerine tree. He must have downed at least four (his shirt has stains to prove it), as he picked them. 

      Mmmmmm, so good once it hits your lips! 

My step dad barbecued chicken, and after months of having stringy, chewy Chinese chickens, last night's dinner hit the spot. I used to live on chicken ( I would BBQ a whole bag of breasts and eat them cold throughout the week) and since moving to China, the only way I can stomach it is if it's hidden in something. It makes me sad. I miss good chicken! And avocado. You bet I had avocado on my salad. And corn on the cob. Delicious sweet corn on the cob.

Did I mention that our Mother's Day supper 

Well, it did.

It also warmed my heart to surprise my mom and see Sal get to experience playing in the backyard for the first time. We stripped his clothes down and he went buck wild exploring every nook and cranny of my mom's yard. I look forward to moving back into our California home with our enormous back yard. 

Outdoor space equals freedom. So does a car.

I have a car right now. It's wonderful. I usually hate driving but the past few days I'm game for anything. I've not yet gone shopping (waiting on a stroller delivery first), but just having wheels and being able to hop in the car and go wherever I want on my schedule is such a good feeling.

 Again, freedom.

To end my Mother's Day post, I just have to thank the man that made me a mother. This year, he gave me the gift of temporary freedom for the next few weeks in the form of a plane ticket and rental car. It's tough not having him here to enjoy it with me, but I am ever so grateful that he made my trip home happen. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Awesome sauce

China is known for its fake markets, and faux-everything. Copycats. Whatever you want to call them. They are everywhere. Most fakes can be spotted a mile away. They are that bad. I'm talking UGG knockoffs with an UCG label, Gucci bags with the trademark red and green stripes reversed, Louis Vuitton spelled Vutton, and so on and so forth.

I get a kick out of all the screen printed shirts and hats I see around town. Sayings that make no sense, written in improper English, or screen printed as a mirror image. If I weren't so camera shy, I'd snap a picture of each funny one I see.

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were talking about baby carriers and I had mentioned I wished I had an Ergo instead of my baby bjorn (Sal outgrew the crotch dangler months ago), as sometimes it would be nice to carry him on my back. I have known of people who use an Ergo from time to time to carry their tired three and four year olds around. Granted you wouldn't want to carry your older child 24/7, but I like the option. The smaller footprint is nice as well. Especially here in china where store checkout lanes are narrow and barricades cause problems for stroller doting mamas.

Later that evening, after our conversation, I received an email link to my favorite shopping website taobao (its like amazon/eBay) for an Ergo at an unbeatable price. I looked over the advertisement, and compared it to the Ergos back in the states. Identical. But so cheap?! Something must be wrong with it.....well, we both ordered one, willing to "take a chance", and to my surprise, it's just like the ones from home. Is it fake? I don't know. Looks real. Feels real...and I'm in love.

Sal (25lbs) and I have used it a lot while playing tour guide to my sister who has been visiting the last two weeks. It's much easier than the stroller when weaving in and out of crowds, and I think he really enjoys the view from his piggy back perch.

This thing is awesome sauce.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Swag wag

Ch-ch-check it out...

We be Rollin' in our new swag wag.....I mean, scooter.

Hello freedom!

All that's missing is one of those annoying family decals. (But check out the CI surfboards love we already slapped on it thanks to Veronica!).

Sal's pretty jealous that mom and dad get to have all the fun. Thankfully auntie is still here to play with him while we headed out for a Saturday scoot.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Sal's first merry-go-round ride was shared with his auntie. He held on for dear life!

Wuxi zoo

Auntie Stephanie is here!

We've been busy showing her around our side of the world the last few days and look forward to a whole 'nother week with her before she has to head back Stateside. I think she will kiss the ground when she lands on US soil. Just kidding. She has acclimated and adjusted better than I would have expected someone who has never been out of the US other than Tijuana. She even mastered chopsticks while eating jiaozi with us tonight! (Go steph!)

Today was May Day, a national holiday.

NZ had today off, so we loaded up the car and headed to the Wuxi zoo, just outside of town.

We weren't sure what to expect of a Chinese zoo. Would conditions leave us feeling sad for the animals? What kind of animals would we see?

Lets just say that PETA would have a conniption fit at the "beast show" we watched at the central stage. Bears on bikes, dancing to Gagnam style, then jumping rope with their trainers...after that came lions and tigers, followed by monkeys riding bikes.

Sal showed some interest in a couple of exhibits, but for the most part, NZ, my sister and I made our way through the crowds ( Sal was quite possibly the most popular exhibit at the zoo), from habitat to habitat trying to get him excited for the lethargic looking rhinos, or the sad looking flamingoes who barely had a puddle to stand in.

Although the habitats could have been kept up better, and the crowds were a bit thick at times, we still had a good time walking the park and will probably go back when Sal gets a bit older.

Yep. A bear on a bike.


Forget the zebra. Check out the laowai.