Monday, September 22, 2014

An 8th Anniversary announcement

Thought I'd share something that is just the icing on the cake of my husband's and my 8th wedding anniversary which happens to be today.

My due date might be April Fools Day, but this certainly isn't an early April fools blog post.

It's for real.

Yes, Carla just turned 8 months old. 

She's still an infant...and I found myself staring at two pink lines when she was just six months old and almost exclusively nursing. I took tests for three consecutive days before calling my OB to confirm. 

Here in China, there's a one child per family rule (there are some exceptions), so imagine the look on the pharmacy clerk's face when in rolls my double stroller with two little ones, and me asking for an HCG test with my handy dandy google translate app. 

The pharmacist brought me a box of birth control pills. I kid you not.

I shook my head and handed them back...saying super slowly in English, "preg-nan-ceee teeeest" as if she'd understand that better than the translation. She then points behind me..condoms.

This was going nowhere fast.

But, as she was showing me my birth control options, I spied them. The tests. At the equivalent of 50 cents in US money, I bought two. That would surely be enough to confirm my suspicions. 

The kids and I made our way home and I raced to take the first test. I was stumped. My eyes were playing tricks. I thought I saw two lines, but figured it was my eyes seeing through the test strip. 


Maybe it was a faulty test (picture me uttering: "damn, china!")? So, instead of waiting til the next morning, I busted open test #2 and peed on that one.

Same result.

What the whaaaa?!

So what did I do? Took a picture and texted it to NZ, naturally.

I mean, what husband doesn't love getting texted pregnancy test pictures in the middle of his work day?

After seeing it, he wasn't sure either and told me to take another test.

I slept on it, and ventured out the next morning to the same pharmacy with the same pharmacist. I bought one test. I shouldn't need more than one, I thought. The clerk was definitely puzzled, and if her giggles were any indication,I'm pretty sure she made fun of me to her colleague as I was leaving.

So, I took test #3 and wouldn't you know it, another faint double line.

By now I'm uttering to myself, "effing China!" for all these faulty tests. Too embarassed to go back out to the Pharmacy again, I sat on the possibility of being pregnant for the day. 

The next day, I was determined to get a cut and dry answer. I loaded up the kids and walked 3 kilometers to the next nearest pharmacy so that I wouldn't have to face the same clerk again. And this time...I stocked up on those bad boys. 

I was NOT going back for more. No way!

Got home and took test #'s 4,5 & 6 and they were all clear as day.

TWO pink lines.

Confirmed the following week by bloodtest, and an ultrasound the week after.

I'm thrilled. Pretty sure my old man is thrilled too. After the journey we have been on, to get to this moment and have this chance at parenthood, yet again....there's no other feeling than that of thankfulness. I still recall the long hours spent in waiting rooms at the fertility clinic, hoping that one day, we would get just ONE live baby to bring home. Four years later, I've been lucky enough to have TWO, and another on the way. 

Here's to hoping we keep our sanity with three littles under three. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Carla is 8 months old!

We have teeth! 

Two to be exact. They popped through just after she turned 7 months old. No fever, no cold, not really fussy--just a few nights of waking once and going back to sleep. Hopefully she sails through the rest of her teething days. I was prepared for an ordeal and she made it really easy on me. She's one tough cookie, that girl.

Speaking of tough cookie--Carla received her first "shiner" aka. Black eye courtesy of big brother Sal. He's very possessive of his trucks, and she's very persistent. Put the two together and it's a recipe for a fist full of wooden truck wheels in the face. I'm sure it's not the last time someone gets clocked while playing tug of war with toys. I'm just feeling a tad guilty I turned my back for a few seconds to get lunch together. I seriously need another set of eyes. And while we're at it, another set of hands would be great too.

Nothing is safe. Carla has learned how to pull herself to a stand using furniture, and she took a few side steps today, so I know cruising furniture is next on her lost of things to accomplish. What was once safe on our coffee table, is no longer. Time to move cell phones, soda cans and remotes to higher grounds. She's quite tickled with herself for climbing things, and I love the "look at me!" grin when she masters climbing something new. 

Am I ready for her to cruise? 

Absolutely not. I thought I had another month based off comparisons to her brother. He started pulling to a stand around 10 months old...we saw it coming and were prepared. With Carla, we were playing in the living room and I rolled over from playing with Sal on the floor to see her perching herself against a box of duplos. 
Thanks to my friend Brandy's IG feed and pictures of her daughter eating rice and beans, I added rice to Carla's meals and she loves it. That's probably how she got to 17 lb, 13 oz this month. She's eating a lot of purees still but I've also started cutting carrots and apples into small (I'm talking smaaaaaall) cubes and steaming them until tender for her to use as finger food. I toss some rice and halved kidney/garbanzo/pinto beans on her high chair tray and she goes to town. I was adding banana but  Let me just say that manhandled banana acts like glue when paired with rice and beans. It's straight to bath after bananas.  

 She seems to enjoy self feeding, and despite the mess it makes, I'm happy to see her figuring out how to get food from point A to point B. We are all eating at the table now, so it's nice to have her sitting with us as opposed to rolling on the floor pulling at our feet  while we scarf our dinners down.

I'm looking forward to our move home at the end of the month which will mark Carla's first time ever in the USA. Just saying that seems crazy to me. It will also be her first time meeting grandmas, grandpas, Nanas, aunties, uncles and cousins. The only two family members that have met her in person have been her Nonno and auntie Stephanie, and she was less than 8 weeks old when those visits happened. I'm hoping for an easy transition, but I'd be foolish to think that we won't have any hiccups. Jetlag can be a bitch on its own--add one kid and it's brutal, two kids and well......we'll have to see just how long one can survive on zero sleep. It's usually only a few days until we've adjusted, so my fingers are crossed cause we have lots on our to do list upon landing. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Oh no,she didn't...oh yes, I did

Today is Monday.

That means its Starbucks day. A couple of years ago one of my fellow expats organized a group of ladies to walk to Starbucks almost every Monday. Since it's about 5k round trip, we called it 5k Monday so it sounded better than saying "Starbucks, again?". Anyways, attendance has died down, but there is still a small group of us that walk there on Mondays.

Our old Starbucks is under construction as of late, so we've been meeting at the new one. I love the new one, mainly because it has a western bathroom inside. The old one had a public restroom located nearby that only had western toilets. This was fine, but there wasn't  any changing areas for babies. So, I often took my kids to a corner of the old store, laid my disposable mat down and got them changed as fast as possible. 

Sal has this innate knack for pooping I've heard coffee has that effect, but I think that it's more a function of having a diaper on than anything else. Yet, he doesn't poop anywhere else when we are out.

Only Starbucks.

With no useable changing areas.

So, when this new Starbucks opened, I was excited. They have a toilet Sal can use.  We take him out without diapers now, even in the car. I do admit to throwing them on him when we are going to be out for a long while, and today was one of those days. So, my two diapered kids and I arrive to the new Starbucks and within minutes, he's disappeared from our table, and I spy him lingering behind a twenty something guy wearing headphones. He's looking over his shoulder at whatever was on the guy's phone.

And then the facial expressions started.

And then a couple grunts and red cheeks.

Followed by "yeave me ah-yone. I'm poopin!" 

He totally dusted that poor guy.

So, I grabbed my changing pad, wipes and diapers and handed Carla off to my friend. We headed towards the new clean bathroom only to find a "sorry. Toilet not working" sign and a barista telling me I could go outside to change him.

What the whaaaa?

Whatever. We're in China. C'mon Sal. Let's put on a show. 

And guess what I did?

Right outside Starbucks doors, on the pavement, I laid my kid down on a chintzy changing mat, opened a poopy diaper and cleaned him up while people passed by. A few gawkers got the stink eye from me but most people just walked by like it "ain't no thang". 

Crazy, right?

It totally goes down in history as the craziest place I've changed my kid. 

Gets better though.

We head back in Starbucks and wouldn't you know...he poops again.

Seriously, kid?!

I grabbed my stuff and tried to laugh it off as we headed out to do a public change again, but this time the barista followed me out and kept pointing ahead and telling me erlo, meaning second floor. She walked me to nearby Pizza Hut and yelled in the door at the waitress who took me to the second floor where there was a bathroom. 

Again, only squatties. 

The waitress returned downstairs as I decided how to tackle poop diaper 2.0 and after some back and forth with myself, I decided that the bathroom wouldn't do. I looked at the floor and just pictured Pee water being mopped around. I'd rather change him outside on the pavement. As we were heading back downstairs, poop filled diaper and all, I saw that there were seating areas upstairs. No one was there, so I stripped him down and changed him in a booth on the bench. If this were America I would have had a shit fit if I saw anyone do this. Seriously, I'd be alerting management and trying to get that person 86'd from Pizza Hut for the rest of their days. 

As I walked out of Pizza Hut after disrespecting their booth with the stench of kid poop, I laughed to myself. Am I really the same girl who would b-line home from Target when my kid pooped so that I wouldn't have to use a public changing area? The thought of using a public changing booth disgusted me.....

Oh China, look how far I've come. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


How do I even start this post? Do I even want to write about it? Or admit it?

Well yes, I do.

Because someday, I'll look back on this time in our lives and miss when my kids were this little.

So, here goes.

My perfect angel has turned into a two year old tornado. Some call it the terrible twos, but he's really not terrible--he's just in need of guidance. And consistency. And love. And the word "no!" on repeat. I'm not one of those parents that is against using the word "no". It's totally in my vocabulary. I use it sparingly, but lately, it's the number one word in my exhausted body's vocabulary. Sometimes I just don't want to redirect or manipulate the situation with my words. I just want to say no and have that be it.

We had a situation this week where he clocked Carla in the eye with a wooden truck. 


She now has her first small shiner.

              [ Carla's shiner]

My immediate reaction was to yell "what were you thinking?!" Even though my rational self knows he isn't capable of explaining why he did it.  He could see my anger, and immediately started laughing, and went to hit her again. My go go gadget arms swiped the truck from his hand in the nick of time, saving her from another blow, and making him switch from hitting her to crying, "my truck, my truck!" because I had taken it away. I explained why I took it away, but he didn't want to apologize to his sister, so the truck became mine and lived on a shelf up high where he could see it but not touch it for the rest of the day.

That night, I refreshed my mind on two year old behavior and development, and realized that the hurting of his sister is because he may feel threatened by her, uneasy about changes to family life, or feel neglected for attention. 

I vowed to make some changes with our morning routine, so I could spend some one on one time with him. Not just side by side, or in the same room doing different activities, but actual sitting down and doing something he chose for us to do together. His sister has just started pulling to a stand (everywhere!) so he most definitely feels her presence as a threat much more than before, and uhm, hello....we're moving and preparing for transition home in the next month.

Suffice to say, I've got the trifecta of toddler stressors all on his little shoulders.

I am still quite frustrated and often want to yell when he hurts Carla, but I also feel quite sympathetic to the trials and tribulations he's undergoing these days. I wish I could have an extra set of eyes or predict his behavior so that I can trust him around Carla. I can't leave them alone together and this makes me sad. Some friends have suggested giving him big kid jobs, but he really doesn't show much interest in doing anything to help with his sister the majority of time. He just wants to sit/lay/push/poke and prod her.

I'm hoping this is just a phase, and that with consistency in discipline/redirection, he will grow up to be a protective brother. With just two years between them. I was hoping for a close relationship between the two, as so many of my friend's kids have. 

If not, we may need to build a home with two different wings and lockdown cells. 

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Please tell me it gets better!