Thursday, May 31, 2007

Making Me Tired

I get tired just thinking about my upcoming trip to the US.
YES, I am very excited to go.
YES, I am very excited to see friends and family.
YES, I am very excited to eat-salad-every-day-without-worry-of-illegal-pesticides.

You see, I have learned that the hardest thing about international travel with an infant isn't the part on the plane (although that can certainly be a challenge). And no, the hardest thing isn't that you-can't-bring-anything-you-need-on-the-plane-like-teething-gel. As it turns out, the hardest part is that the little one doesn't really "get" the time zone thing - especially when your destination is 10 hours behind. It's a total night/day flip/flop. You leave on the same day you arrive after traveling a-gazillion-hours.

It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to function like an adult during the day.
Maybe this time Chase can drive; I will sleep in her car seat.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bottleless Bedtime

Ever since she turned one, I have been trying to figure out the best way to wean Chase from the bottle. At this point, the bottle is been much more about comfort than a convenient device to ensure one's child consumes enough nutrients.

With my trip the US only a week away, I have been asking myself if I should bring the bottles (they take up so much room and are such a *bleeping* hassle). I'm hesitant to admit this, but I have actually spent time debating this issue with myself.

So it is with great joy that I report my question answered itself.

During our weekend in Beijing, it was so hot that Chase was drinking shed-loads of water. She produced so many diapers, I couldn't begin to count them. As we were "going going going" all the time, she literally fell asleep when she couldn't keep her eyes open anymore (as did we all), which means that the whole "have a bottle before bed" thing didn't happen for three days.

And so Hubs and I decided to continue the bottleless bedtime routine after we returned to Dalian.

We're two days into bottleless bedtime ... so far, so good. Admittedly, it takes a good deal longer to put her down for naps during the day, and nights take a little more time. But if I have to wait a little longer, it's worth it to (a) beat the bottle and (b) lighten my load.

And yes, I know bottleless isn't a word.

What I Miss Most

- Friends (we have friends here, but it's just not the same)
- Lime
- Avocados
- Blue cheese, all artisan cheeses, wine
- Fresh herbs
- Organic produce
- Free range beef and chicken
- Organic, hormone-free milk
- Speaking English to someone else who speaks English
- Finding everything I need at one store
- Being able to buy all ingredients I need for a recipe
- Carrots that are orange in the middle
- Clean public restrooms (I'm so tired of holes)
- Backyard BBQs
- A game of Croquet after dinner (way back when - when we had a backyard)
- Bacolna Dolce dessert from Papa Hayden's
- Having a garden

News Of The Day

The good...
- An international team of scientists has isolated antibodies that could provide treatment for bird flu in humans, according to a study published Tuesday.

The bad...
ATLANTA, Georgia
(CNN) -- Federal health authorities said Tuesday that they are looking for people who may have been exposed to a rare and potentially fatal form of tuberculosis from an infected passenger during two trans-Atlantic flights this month.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Ten U.S. troops died in Iraq on Monday, including eight killed in a deadly chain of events that began when a U.S. helicopter was shot down, according to a U.S. military official.

And what we were waiting to hear...
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Britney Spears says she "hit rock bottom," in a message posted on her Web site about the end of her marriage and her time in rehab.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Day 1:

Chase decided she wanted to see The Great Wall of China. So off we went.

After a quick, one hour flight, we arrived in Beijing. We were picked up from the airport by a driver, who took us directly to The Wall. (For those looking to visit Beijing, I highly recommend contacting William at

I had a minor anxiety attack when I realized that in order to see The Wall we had to take a chair lift. Chase handled it better than I did. She sat very still and took it all quite seriously (the sunglasses and smile are an attempt to hide my panic).

I'm not sure what I expected, but I must say that hiking The Wall is not for the faint of heart. In all seriousness - if one is looking for a heck of a workout, one should definitely combine steep, uneven stairs with the additional weight of a small child.

As I needed a break, Hubs took Chase up to the very top - and then past a sign that read "do not pass." And yes, we had some words when he returned. Chase, meanwhile, soaked in the brilliant view. We could not have had better weather.

Here's a shot of from the top of The "Wild" Wall, which is now overgrown and falling into disrepair. Special thanks to Hubs for snapping this during his walkabout.

And then we started back down...

Just a few more steps (ha!)...

After the Wall, we went back to our hotel (I have to say, if one ever decides to visit The Great Wall, going directly from the airport is the way to do it). From there, we decided to do a bit of shopping. After our little shopping spree (the first of many), we headed over to an old friend's house for dinner.

Silly me, I did not take any pictures. Her daughter, Margo, bears a striking resemblance to Chase. The girls got along famously. They chased each other. Babbled at each other. And really interacted and played with each other. It was super cute.

We had a lovely time and look forward to seeing them both again soon.

Day 2:
First stop - The Dirt Market - Beijing's oldest, largest flea market. So many stalls, with so much rubbish, but for those who take the time, I'm sure it's a great place to find hidden treasure. The market opens around sunrise (4 a.m.-ish) and then closes around 5 p.m. We arrived about 8 a.m. and people were already swarming in. And yes, it was really hot. Already. At 8 a.m.

We walked away with a gorgeous Tibetan carpet and a few strands of pearls.

Chase loved running her fingers through the strands of pearls.
She just could not get enough.

And then she found the bags (and bags and bags) of pearls.
We knew we were in trouble!

Next - we hopped a cab to 798, a trendy warehouse-turned-arts-district. What struck me most about the art in Beijing - as well as the art in Shanghai - is the anger and sadness captured within the pieces. Some pieces were dark - in both color and subject matter, while others were brilliantly colored but seriously twisted.

Note the Tibetan carpet hubs is toting - because we are crazy enough to bring along a carpet (and a toddler) on an art walk.

Unfortunately, darling Lolly tripped while she was walking and didn't catch herself in time.
She ended up with quite a mark on her forehead. We stopped for lunch and ordered a banana split (worse one ever), but the bananas seemed to cheer her up pretty quickly.

We walked until I was so exhausted I could no longer stand (almost 4 hours) - and we still had not seen it all. The heat, plus the extra weight of a small child and a Tibetan carpet, forced us to cut our tour a little short.

And then we got our second (third?) wind and headed to a warehouse that sells antiques, collectibles and new furniture. They do serious business there - so serious they have their own shippers in-house. So we toured 3 massive floors of furniture (with a shipper shopping with us) and came away with some lovely pieces, which should arrive in the next week or so.

And yes, we bought these itty-bitty chairs for Chase. She just loved them so much. And we bought a little (low) antique table, to go with the chairs.

And then, as the doors were closing, we heard about another warehouse.
Hubs wanted to go. I wanted to go.
But it was 6 p.m. and I was out of snacks (and diapers) for Chase.
So we headed back to the hotel for showers.

I told Hubs that we should tuck in and order room service.
Hubs told me he wanted to go out to a Mexican restaurant.
It was all I could do to motivate myself to get off the bed.
But I am so glad we went.

It was amazing. They had lime.
They even had guacamole.
Beijing only just allowed avocados in last year.
We met the owner. She had some great stories.
I highly recommend the Mexican Wave restaurant.
Chase fell asleep in the cab on the way there, so Hubs and I enjoyed time together unwinding.

Day 3:
After sleeping quite poorly (thanks to a midnight demolition crew with jackhammers), we awoke and headed out to T-square (sorry about the self-censoring, but I want to keep this blog off any watch lists).

A quick shot of us in T-square (below), just in front of the Forbidden City (which was undergoing restoration and was totally covered by scaffolding in preparation for the 2008 Olympics). For this reason, we decided to save the Forbidden City for our next visit to Beijing.

Our little diplomat...

And then we went to the Temple of Heaven, which was used by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911) to worship Heaven and pray for good harvests.

At this point, our dearest little one was so hot and exhausted - it was all she could do to keep her eyes open. It was so hot. I can't begin to describe how hot.

And Chase was soooo tired...

We soon discovered that the grounds of the Temple of Heaven were huge. Just when we thought we had seen it all, another building, courtyard or pavillion came into sight.

We were all hot, grumpy and exhausted. It wasn't pretty. Sure, we should have actually read and followed the map/guide, but that would have been too easy.

And then Chase woke up.
Let me just say, she was so 'over' the Temple of Heaven.

And then there was more...

And more...

And finally we managed to find a path where Chase could walk without being mobbed. Plus it had some shade. So we set her down and let her stretch her legs. She happily played about and made it quite clear that she was more than happy to use her little legs. In fact, she threw a little tantrum when we tried to move her from the spot. Eventually we picked her up, and ran toward the exit (and the nearest cab with AC) singing nursery rhyms as she wiggled and wailed.

Next was the Pearl Market, for more pearls (after all, one can never have too many), then came a feast of Thai food (for the first time in 6 months) for lunch.

Following our late lunch, we headed back to the hotel, grabbed our bags and made for the airport.

The things that most surprised me about Beijing - (1) it was so Western (there were white people everywhere), (2) it was so green (tree-lined streets!) , (3) it was so filthy (and I mean unbelievably filthy), and (4) it was so hot (and it is May).

Things that didn't surprise me - the air quality was horrible. I could feel it, see it, taste it. Chase's eyes even became red and weepy for a little while. Everyone's skin broke out on the second day.

Anyone who thinks they don't need to recycle should visit Beijing. The air is muddy with toxins. It scares me to think of what is actually in the rain (which waters the crops).

It makes me want to become an environmentalist.

But I also left Beijing happy to know that a truly international city is so close - and feeling like there was still so much I wanted to see and do there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Keeping Busy

I've started to build out a little space for Chase in the kitchen - complete with pots and pans. I've also given her a kitchen cabinet, which will keep her little toy fruits and veggies, as well as real snacks so she can munch when she gets hungry.

The other day she went to the cabinet, took out a small plastic cup and a tea bag. She opened the tea bag and pulled out the sachet. She then proceeded to put the sachet into the plastic cup and pretended to drink it. Amazing.

I've also created a music corner...

A reading nook...

A sports/rec center (she really likes golf)...

A place for putting stickers (decals for the window, stickers for the book)...

And I've started designing clothes for her...

(Too bad she doesn't like to wear it)

Chinese Doctor

This is Hubs after going to see the Chinese doctor about lower back pain.

Walmart Servant Leadership

This is posted prominently at Walmart.
Be sure to read the fine print at the bottom - it's the best part.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Good Morning

The morning Chase turned 14-months-old, she woke up at 7 a.m. She opened her bedroom door, walked down the hall to our bedroom, opened our bedroom door - and then made her way over to our bed.

Hubs and I were both surprised and delighted to see her.
Chase acted like it was no big deal.

Only the day before, Chase had showed me that if she stood on her little tippy toes and stretched each finger up, up, up - one could eventually catch the nob. I was so happy and so excited for her - and then suddenly so worried about what this new achievement actually means for me (in the wild world of baby proofing).

Chase's latest achievement struck me as particularly interesting because most children at this age are (1) still in cribs or (2) too short to reach the door nob.

I think I've got about a month before I have to worry about the front door ...

Saturday, May 19, 2007


We went to a great birthday party for two boys this afternoon. All went well until the end, when I sat in apple juice (my bum got wet and my pants became a bit, well, see-through) and Chase filled her diaper up with such gusto (she had a lot to drink), it ended up all over my shirt.

We excused ourselves very quickly.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Going To America

Happy to report Chase and I are heading back to America for the month of June. I can't bring myself to think about the mega plane rides without Brian (one from Dalian to PDX - then another from PDX to Jackson, MS). Just thinking about taking the walking, willfull, little Miss Lolly on a super long plane trip makes my eye twitch. It's not that I don't want to spend every hour of the day with her - I do. It's just that I'd rather spend that time in a place where she can walk around and play.

I asked one of the teachers at Gymboree if she had any suggestions (I was thinking playdough, decals, stickers). She said many parents give their kids something to make them sleep. For better or for worse, I am not one of "those" parents. So I will arrive in Portland with bags under my eyes, totally frazzled and strung out - or, in my dad's words, "like the sleepy man is standing on my face."

All this just in time for my 15-year high school reunion. Is it too late to start a diet and excercize regime? (I'm sure most of my classmates have been fasting since January to make sure they are a size -0 for the reunion.)

Should be interesting - it better be! Otherwise I will have a hard time staying awake.

Newest Playgroup

This morning we went to the most organized playgroup I've ever been to - it was awesome. It is from 9-11 a.m. The group meets four times per week (too often for me) and is run by a preschool teacher and a gal who works at Gymboree. The kids range in age between 18-24 months. Of course they are all Chinese. The hostess and the gal from Gymboree are the only folks that speak English. The hostess is the same woman who invited us to go strawberry picking.

I get the feeling she thinks Chase is too young (c'mon, she's 14 months today!) for her playgroup and is trying nicely to revoke the playgourp invitation. She keeps saying, "maybe the kids are too old for Chase." And I keep saying, "it is so great to let Chase have an opportunity to play with older kids."

I think we've said this to each other four times already.

Maybe I should take the hint (although I must admit I got the hint the first time. Whether or not I decide to take the hint is another subject entirely, as I think it is extremely important for Chase to interact with slightly older children).

Maybe we'll just rely on three days of Gymboree and our playdates with Ho Di, Joshua (when he returns from Beijing), and Nicholas (when he returns from Germany).

Bird Is The Word

Last night Chase signed "bird." Talk about super cute. She can now sign fish, hat, more and bath. She could probably do more, but I must admit I am slacking on the whole sign language thing (bad Mommy, bad).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Word Of The Day And Other Updates

Chase's word of the day is ... bubble. Pronounced "buhba."

With this new English word comes a new Chinese word, "baba," which means Dad.

She also knows the Chinese word for horse - "ma." At first I thought she was saying "ma" for "mama," (as in 'hey mom, check out this horse') but then I realized - after she did it three different times in three different situations on three different days - that she wasn't actually saying "mama," she was saying "ma." Clever girl.

She also knows the word milk (pronounced "mil") and she recognizes, but can't pronounce sticker, dog, ear, eye, nose, toes, and belly button. Sometimes she knows the word 'hair.' And of course I have no idea how many words she knows in Chinese, but she seems to understand Flora pretty well (she actually does what Flora asks).

She's learned to blow kisses, but likes to do it on her own (unprompted). As if to tell me "I'm going to decide when and where I give away kisses, Mama."

I have also been surprised by how easily she gives things to other children. She's quite good at it and doesn't seem to miss the item after she's given it away - which should put her in good stead for dealing with others in the future.

She's decided she doesn't like to sit and splash in the bath anymore. She prefers to stand (perhaps because she sees Mommy and Daddy standing in the shower). It doesn't matter how many toys we introduce - she just wants to chew on her little toothbrush and be done with the bath as quickly as possible.

Chase is growing so quickly we decided to purchase a new bed for her. A real mattress, made for a big person. I debated over queen vs full/double for quite some time and finally settled on a full/double. It is currently "airing out" in our sun room. It smelled a little toxic when it arrived. I'm prepared to keep it in the sun room as long as it takes to remove the smell (think nail polish).

My poor darling Chase has been in pain over the last week or so - she has her first molar (bottom left) and three others are forcing their way through the gum as we speak. So I was up last night from 2-3:30. She was wide awake - so I changed her, gave her some milk, and sang her a couple tunes.

Eventually she fell asleep - as did I - and must mention here that I had a strange dream about trying to get somewhere in China and being stuck on a boat and finding out it was going to take me 22 days to get there.

The funny part is I remember thinking, "oh this is just g-r-e-a-t, I just know Hubs is going to ask me why I didn't ask how long it would take to get there before I got on the boat." Weird.

Anyway ...

Today we went over to Ho Di's home and he didn't cry at all, so I think he and Chase will be friends afterall. He was sans diaper (as they all are here), which still makes me laugh - only because it is so different from how things are done in the US.

Tomorrow we pick up Chase's Chinese glamour shots. Should be seriously hilarious. I was so tempted to dress her up like a pineapple, but then I realized that not only would she never forgive me - I would never forgive myself. So I settled for one picture of Chase in a red, Chinese outfit (with a red lantern and funny food on a stick as props), one picture of Chase dressed like an angel (with a strange outdoor backdrop and a carriage and dove used as props) and a picture of her in a pink tutu (with shoes that were too small).

Should be interesting!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Root Canal: Update

So I mustered up all my courage and went to the dentist, resigned to the fact that I was going to have to have to have a root canal in my front tooth. As Hubs is out of town, I kept talking to myself (no, not out loud), saying over and over again, "it's going to be okay; deep breaths, deep breaths."

I plunked myself down and prepared for the worst. So I was surprised when my dentist said, "We don't have to drill today. I am going to put a 'protective coating' on your tooth. Don't worry, it will be fine." I like my dentist very much; I liked her even more after she told me this.

Seriously though, a 'protective coating,' - is that like a force field? How come I've never had a 'protective coating' put on when in the US? And why did she wait until now to use this 'protective coating?' And why didn't she put it on all my teeth?

But sure enough, it feels better. No root canal this week (knock wood).

Monday, May 14, 2007

Should I Be Worried?

That this DOLE label reads "plant quarantine?"
Why couldn't it read "fruity and delicious, grown by organic farmers in Oregon?"
Seriously. What in the heck does a plant quarantine sticker mean?
And why are they selling them?
Just one more thing to put on my 'do not eat' list.

Other items include: anything red (they like using Sudan red here), fish from anywhere but the deep ocean, anything that can't be peeled or cooked and anything that looks like it has MSG, which basically leaves me with my tub of Skippy Peanut butter (from the US) and raspberry jam (from Switzerland) - which is exactly what I had for dinner as Hubs is away this week.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mothers' Day

Thanks to my darling little girl (and my dashing husband), I get to celebrate Mothers' Day (hard to believe it is my second one!) - so what did we do?

Well, first we woke up at the break of dawn (thanks to Chase's new tooth) - no problem, we had to be up early anyway as we were being picked up at 8:30 a.m. for a China-tastic berry picking excursion with 9 other families.

En route to berry picking, we passed a truck filled with seaweed. One word - YUM.

We finally arrived at the strawberry fields (greenhouse)...

Inside the greenhouse...

Chase found a little spot all her own and started playing in the dirt...

She would look up occasionally to ensure we were still there...

And then it was back to the dirt...

She did, however, manage to find a couple (pre-selected) berries...

And then the paparazzi found Chase...

From there, we had to cool off a little. Luckily, there was a little driving range nearby. Good thing Chase already has her own set of small, brightly colored plastic clubs of her own.

She knew just what to do; yeah, she pretty much schooled her peers.

Our little pro...

The competition...

Chase found time between shots to show off her squatting skills...

And inspect the golf balls...

And then there was the group photo - complete with a custom banner...

And then it was off to lunch (it was at a Chinese hillside village turned restaurant)...

And after lunch, we found out it was actually a birthday party (note the ritz crackers on top of the cake)...

One word: YUM

So what did we learn? One can never be too overdressed for strawberry picking in China.