So much has happened, following are a few highlights.
- Flying with a toddler is WAY different from flying with an infant. To all my friends with infants - travel NOW. Go see Europe. See Asia. Do it now, before your child can walk. Take it from me, the "fasten seat-belt sign" means nothing to a toddler.
- On my (10 hr) flight to Portland (via Beijing and San Fran), a woman sitting next to me was kind enough to point out there was a row of seats (about 10 rows back) that was wide open. She told me, with pursed lips and forced kindness, "I have a two year old and I find it helpful to fly with as much room as possible." I replied, "thank you, but I prefer the bulk head."
- My high school reunion was good, although only 6 other people showed up for it.
- Living in Europe just doesn't give you the same level of culture shock upon return as living in China. The thing that hit me most is how overweight Americans are... and I'm in Oregon - with loads of active, physically fit, granola crunchers. And I was still blown away. I shouldn't be talking, because I'm no skinny Minnie, but coming from a city where you just don't see much in the way of extra weight on people...well it really struck me. And the kicker is that I just really "got" for the first time how much it is part of our culture - sure you 'know' why it happens, but the portion sizes are super huge - I found myself stuffing a massive chimichanga into my body, packing it in, as if I had to make it fit. Hubs and I decided to gorge ourselves - as you can't get Mexican food in China - and I actually ate spoonfuls of guacamole - alone, with nothing else. It was so good. The point is, I understand why Americans are heavy. Food (especially anything processed and full of sugar, salt, starch) tastes so good. But comparing what we eat in China (rice, tofu, fish), to what a typical American eats, it sure makes me want to stick to a Chinese-type diet (even after we return).
- Hubs flew out to PDX for my Dad's wedding (photos to come when I've downloaded everything from our camera). We had a great time with family. It was wonderful. The wedding was at the Coast, so Chase got to play in the sand for the first time. At first she didn't know what to do, she didn't like the sand in her toes, but 10 minutes later she didn't want to leave - ever.
- Nana Cris has really been working overtime to keep Chase busy. She set up "learning stations" all over her house. Little pitchers filled with rice. Different spoons for Chase to carry rice from one bowl to the next. Clear plastic tubes for Chase to roll marbles down. A box with smaller boxes in it, to be sorted. Lots of water play. A very special thanks from me to Nana Cris for rearranging her schedule so that I could get my hair cut, go to dentist appointments, etc.
- Grandpa Mark also gets a big thanks for all his time playing with Chase. And for the lovely building blocks he created for her. They are wonderful! Thanks Dad!
- And of course I need to thank my little cousins, Sean and Julia, for all the time they played with Chase too!
- Other than that, we mostly spent our days on the road, visiting friends and family. I'm on a red-eye to Mississippi tonight. Good times. Here's to hoping my daughter sleeps right through it.