Monday, April 28, 2014

Dressed up pigs

I gave my ex-gymnast toes a new jamicure today....

That must mean a beachside holiday is on the radar. 

Ever seen jamberry nail wraps? One of my friends stateside (who happens to be my most favorite hairstylist) started selling these and seeing as I won't step foot in a Chinese nail salon for fear of losing a digit or two to some crazy only-in-China nail infection, these seemed right up my alley. 

Super easy to apply. My first set lasted three weeks (and would have gone longer but I wanted to switch it up), which is about 2 weeks and 6 days longer than polish stays looking good on my toes. 

There are tons of fun designs to mix and match and I'm able to do a pedicure with two strips which means I could potentially do a matching mani pedi if I felt so inclined. 

If you haven't already, check them out.

I'm sold.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Sal is infatuated with all of the "no" signs around here. 

At first everything was " no smoking". Then I taught him about the "no honking" signs which happen to be in every traffic lighted intersection. Last weekend we heard " no honking" a bajillion times as we drove out to Binhu district. 

Today he added four more to his repertoire courtesy of the fountain in our compound. 

I love our little policeman. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

As seen in China

Thought I'd share a few of my recent sightings.

Just another day in the life.....

The local bike repair shop. Got a flat? Fix it fast. My father in law took this photo while visiting. This man sets up shop across from our compound.

NZ and I followed this guy through the potholed side streets of Binhu district last weekend. He had a canister of some pressurized gas just hanging out while his trunk banged up and down on it. (Don't worry mom, we didn't follow that closely. This was taken at a stoplight. Rest easy.) my sister pointed out the license reads "DUM", and I agree..dumb move transporting a gas canister this way..hopefully it was empty.

Split pants and fertilizing potted plants at the mall. This one doesn't even phase me anymore. At least this Nǎinai held her grandson over a plant. We've seen a mother squat with her child on the front steps of KFC to poop before. Like, seriously?! On a positive note, potty training Sal could be easier while out and about. I just can't bring myself to do it. 

Hey Nick, why is that lorrie crooked? 

Oh, that's why. 
Missing an axle. 
It's all good, it's tied up with a rope. 

China's interpretation of a food truck. The food tuktuk. 

This guy pumps out puffed tubes of corn. A whole bag for 2 ¥. 
I've never tried them...because, well...gutter oil. 

So, there you go...some of the stuff we see everyday. There's never a shortage of " what were they thinking?!" moments.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sal, lately.

Age: 27 months

Stats: 13.5 kg, not sure how tall.

Clothes: 2T pants, 2-3T shirts. His favorite shorts are basketball shorts handed down to him from our friend, Aiden. He refers to them as Aiden shorts. He also loves his Mickey ringer tee and his new "muscle shirt". 

Food: Does juice count? He would drink diluted juice 24/7 if allowed. He loves "ficey Pisa" (spicy pizza), " fickles" (pickles), nuts, "waisins" (raisins), toast, chips, nachos, green beans, cucumber and tomatoes. He's not much of a meat eater, unless it is steak. 

Verbal ability: Who let my kid swallow a parrot? He repeats EVERYTHING, and I mean, EVERYTHING..especially the things we let slip from our tongues. Some of our favorites are, "for EVER!!" said with mucho gusto, "what a bummer", "no big deal", "fix it", "put the water in it", "clean it up" & " not too much". I can hear these words coming out my own mouth every time he says them. There's definitely a theme there. He's shy when others talk to him, but is very vocal when it comes time to say goodbye. He says quite audibly, "bye guys!", and "see you next time". I've been trying to teach him how to greet people with a handshake, but the only person he has tried it on is his sister. He grabs her hand and shakes it forcibly, saying "nice to meet you."  When people cough or sneeze, he says, "salud!". It's darling. 

Activities: Sal's go-to toys are definitely Duplo blocks and his wooden blocks. He sits and organizes his wood blocks by shape, and stacks same shape duplos into tall towers. Pretend play has begun a little bit, with him often talking to his stuffed yellow lab, Pluto (formerly known as Tess), and his beanie baby bull "fuh-da-nan"(Ferdinand) at nap time. I love this age and watching his little mind wrap itself around ideas. 

Things he does: Sal still loves the song "Whistle" by FloRida, and will hijack my iPad to play it in the dining room where he proceeds to stand on top of his Duplo box, while holding a table leg and getting his groove on. He does the same with Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem". I credit his love for J.A. to the fact that I had that song on repeat while he was in utero. It's engrained in him. He HAS to love it. 

He has mastered a mean somersault now, and is really good at jumping with both feet off the ground. His valley girl-esque way of saying "forEV-er!" makes us laugh every time, and he gives some really good kisses goodnight. 

Our elevator has a no smoking sign posted--the kind with a red circle and slash over a cigarette. One day he asked, "whassit?" So I explained what it meant. Ever since then, when we see a no smoking sign, he yells " no smokeen". He loves finding the "don't " signs wherever we go now and is constantly asking, " whassit?". 

Proudest mom moment: He does so many things each day that make me proud of him. I think my favorite moment lately came when the phone rang as I was nursing his sister and couldn't answer it-- by the time I got in the room where our landline is, he had already answered "HehWhoa, hehwhoaaaa? Wong numba. Bye guys." And hung up. The phone rang again. This time I answered and he was in fact right--the caller had the wrong number. I just loved his little voice and was surprised he knew the correct phone etiquette of answering a call. 


Proudest dad moment: NZ says one of the things that makes him proudest, is when we are getting ready to go, and Sal comes running out saying, " dada, hat?" wanting to wear a Dodger cap like his.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wuxi international marathon

Just after Carla was born, my friends here in Wuxi were talking about participating in an upcoming marathon held in Wuxi. After looking into it a bit, I found out there were a few options for participation--a full marathon, a half marathon and a mini marathon. I threw the idea of doing a mini out there to NZ, since we often walk more than 5/6k on the weekends with the kids. He agreed that it sounded fun.


With the help of fellow expat, Diana and her husband Justin, we signed up for the mini. All of the registration and website info was in mandarin, so we really have to thank Diana for her help with it all. This is one of the things I do love about living here--our expat community--and the fact that we all lend a hand to one another when we can. 

NZ rented a van for the day and I'm glad he did, as it was drizzling this morning and the busses would have been a nightmare with our double stroller & two kids packed in with the masses. As soon as we parked and headed towards the starting line, the paparazzi caught wind of the laowai couple pushing their two kids in the race. Remember, China still practices the one child per couple rule ( with some exceptions), so it wasn't just that we were white people pushing a cute kid during the race--but two cute white kids. As far as we know we were the only participants pushing a stroller. Back in the states it's quite common for families to run together. Here, not so much. Heck, I haven't really seen any Chinese here actually jog outdoors-like, ever. Whenever I see someone running, it's a foreigner. 

All in all, we had a good time, despite a "not enough juice" meltdown and a bit of rain. 

I look forward to doing more races withy family. It's a great way to get outdoors and model an active lifestyle.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Carla is 3 months old

It's the 13th again...that means my kids are another month older! I had a pretty cool discovery while playing around in my photos on my iPad--since the kids are exactly two years apart, and iDevices date photos, I'm able to take a photo of Carla and then browse my iPhotos for the same month/day to see what Sal looked like at that exact age. No math required! 

Here's what Carla looks like at 3 months....
                                            {Carla on 4.13.14}

And here's her big brother...
                              {Sal  exactly two years ago on 4.13.12}

Carla spent most of the third month being spoiled by her Nonno, who came to visit us for two weeks at the end of March. She gave him lots of snuggles and smiles, and I was sad to see my "baby whisperer" head home. She loved the extra snuggles. Now that my extra set of hands are gone--she's back on her playmat when I need to get things done (or chase her brother). 

                          {having a heart to heart with her nonno}

Speaking of floor time...she has been doing awesome on her tummy, often holding her head up and swiveling around to see what's going on. She's rolled over a handful of times, but she always seems so surprised when it happens. She can't quite figure out how she did it. Sal has been helping her learn the ropes of grabbing the toys that hang on her play mat. Just this week she started swatting at--and occasionally grasping the ring that hangs from her monkey above. 

                                           { how did I do that?}

She's been a good eater, and I'm happy that she's eating more at each feeding, so I've finally gotten a little more freedom. For a while there, I felt like all I did all day was feed her. I think Sal would agree. We still have some days where all she wants to do is eat, and I just go with it. Don't we all have days where we are just a little hungrier than usual? 

Most nights, she sleeps through the night. I usually put her to bed by 8:30 p.m.and she wakes around 6:30 a.m.. Sometimes she wakes for a feeding around 3:30, but more often than not she lets me sleep. 

As for naps--meh. I've yet to try sleep training her for nap times. With Sal, we used the 90 minute sleep cycle method. I agonized over his lack of daytime sleep at this age. He'd sleep 15 minutes max, and I was just convinced that it wasn't normal. With Carla, well....I'm just going with it. She's at the stage where she won't take naps longer than 15 minutes if she isn't ON me. If I throw her in my ergo, she will sleep 1-2 hours in the morning....but this makes it impossible for me to really clean or do anything productive ( a shower would be nice), so I know it's not the best option in the long run. She naps again in the afternoon while I walk her "doesn't-need-a-nap" brother to sleep in the stroller.  It's rare that I have them both to sleep at the same time, but it does happen on occasion. 

                          {sleeping to the sound of mama's flip flops flopping}

I'm not sure what she weighs now. She won't be weighed again until her four month check up. She is definitely growing--a few of her 3 month sleepers are getting a bit short and snug. She wore her first pair of jeggings this week in 6 month size. Although she eats well, there's still not much baby chub to speak of. 

Carla has earned herself a few nicknames already. I often call her lil bit, or Carlita. As of late, I'm not the only one calling her names. Sal can't pronounce Carla--when he says it, it sounds like "Cah", but go figure, he can almost pronounce Carlita. I smile every time I hear him say, "I wuv you Car-yeetah". No matter what we call her, she is a smiley little thing. So far she has been a sweet, happy girl who has made me believe in perfect babies. I always called bull$hit on parents who claimed their baby never fussed (unless hungry or dirty), slept through the night from early on, etc, etc..and was "perfect". 

Now I believe that these babies do exisit...and (knock on wood) we have one. She has the most easy going, happy temperament. I hope it lasts. 

                                          {the sun never sets on cool}

Her passport arrived last month, and after a quick trip to the police station downtown, she is officially registered as a Wuxi resident. Carla will be getting her first stamps this month as we  head off on holiday.  I hope one day she looks back and thinks her babyhood spent overseas was pretty freaking awesome. I know she won't remember a thing about life in China, or the traveling we are doing while over here, but she will have her passport stamps and Chinese birth certificate to hang on to as a token of her unique baby years. I never thought we would be lucky enough to have another baby so soon, yet alone while over here. I'm so thankful and glad things worked out the way that they have. I can't imagine our life without her in it.

Pinafore dress

My sister in law Charlee made Carla a really cute pinafore dress & bloomers.

With Easter approaching, I was excited for her to wear it....but after trying it on her, I realized it won't be fitting her until summertime. Bummer.

I started browsing pinterest and found a tutorial on making the pinafore dresses. This style is a favorite for me, because it can be worn as a tunic after she outgrows it as a dress, and I love how breezy it is for our hot Wuxi summers. The tutorial seeme easy and included a PDF pattern. The only problem was that I have no way of printing it. I pulled out the pinafore that Charlee made and used it as my guide, scaling the pattern down by 1/4" all the way around. 

Next I dug into my fabric stash (it is a pitiful stash compared to what I had back in the USA), and found two coordinating prints. I cut, sewed & pressed the dress in less than twenty minutes. I was undecided on whether to use snaps or buttons and ultimately chose to sew buttons on both sides of the dress and cut button holes--which were then sewed by hand, since my cheap machine doesn't do button holes--on the straps. 

This afternoon, she modeled it for me. I'm super happy with how it turned out since this was my first time scaling a pattern down. 

                                        [pinafore dress: front view]

                                          [pinafore dress: rear view]

I forsee many of these dresses in her summer wardrobe. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014


             Carla sporting shades 

Her lashes are growing. I have a feeling she's been blessed with the same long lashes as her brother. 

           Sal at three months old. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Naptime 'round here

And so goes the saga of naptime woes. 

I've been fighting back against my nap resistant two year old since the end of November. The little guy who at one time was cool with a couple of songs and a goodnight kiss has been screaming, crying, kicking and trying to negotiate a way out of naps for four whole months now. 

I refuse to give in. He's two. Two year olds need naps. 

Admittedly, I have reached the point where I don't expect him to sleep anymore. I have tried letting him "sleep" in our bed the past week and although he no longer screams bloody murder at the mention of "resting time", I'm convinced he will make the Olympic team for trampolining in 2028 if the tricks he pulls on our bed during naptime are any indication. 

If he is caught trampolining (which is every single day), he's moved back into his crib and given a book and a stuffed toy to cuddle with. I tell him he needs to lie quietly with his buddy and help the stuffed animal fall asleep. This has been successful twice in the last three weeks. That's a terrible average. 

And now what do I do now that I'm really desperate?

Once naptime fails  (we're usually at least 90 minutes into the battle at this point ), I've been loading the kids in the stroller for a walk. I face his seat towards me and underneath his sister so all he can see is pavement passing and hear my flip flops flipping. 

And this my friends has been a home run for us seven days in a row. 

I hate that he's not an easy napper anymore, but on the bright side, I'm getting some exercise and sunshine while he sleeps. I can already picture summer time. Over one hundred degrees with equal humidity--sweating buckets in an attempt to get my handsome little man to catch a few zzzz's. 

What have I gotten myself into?