Sunday, February 20, 2011

What Happens When We Disappear

 by Ruth
You may be wondering about the month of silence followed by a barrage of blog posts.  Our communication silence is not due to any lack of fondness on our part but is rather because we have been busy traveling.  We have just returned from our annual jaunt to Thailand for our conference and a bit of relaxation during Spring Festival (Chinese New Year).  You usually miss out on this part of our lives since we are too busy traveling around to tell you about it, but this year I will fill you in on a few of the highlights (and "low-lights") of the past month.

Well traveled
We'll start with the bad parts:
*The travel: Each leg of our travel was fraught with frustration and difficulty, which you can read more about in Kevin's posts.  Suffice it to say, we almost didn't make it out of China, and then we almost didn't make it back into China.  But in the end, we got there and back and only aged a few years in the process.

*The sickness: Kevin and I (along with about half of the other teachers at conference) were taken down by a nasty 24-hr stomach bug.  Fortunately, we were not sick at the same time, so someone could take care of the baby, and extra fortunately Juliana stayed well!  Yay for nursing-produced immunities!

*The travel: I already said that, didn't I?  For the most part, Juliana handled the travel very well (her 5-9th flights), but all the upheaval did lead to a crankier, crazier baby.  She definitely cried a lot more than she had been at home, poor thing.  And boy does she have a strong voice...

Going for a swim

Most of the parts were good, though:
*We got to spend five days at a beautiful Thai beach with my good friends Mallary and Chip. It was great to relax in the warm, sunny weather since conference itself is usually a busy time. 

*It was also wonderful to actually hang out with friends!  I loved having a really good friend around - someone you can say anything to without having to explain or justify because they already know you so well.  One day something was bothering me and I thought, "I really want to email someone about this."  Then I realized, "Wait a minute, I have a friend right here!  I could actually talk to her about it!"  I did, and it was very satisfying.

*We got to eat pizza, burritos, hummus, burgers, milkshakes, pad thai, and all number of delicious foods we miss in China.  I'm not going to lie..eating is always a highlight.

*The weather was warm.  The sky was blue with those little puffy clouds.  The people were all smiling and friendly.  These are a few of the reasons my friend calls Thailand, "The land of all good things."

*I got to be around other mothers!  It was so encouraging.  Nobody can commiserate about things like waking up all night long for months on end like someone else who has been there.  It's great to be around other people who can say, "My baby is/was like that too!  You're not doing anything wrong and it will get better!"  And this unique group has lots of practical advice for raising children in Asia.

*Our conference was good (the parts we actually made it to).  It's always nice to be around a lot of people "like us."  In China, it is glaringly apparent that we don't fit in.  Even in America, we're not exactly average.  But among this group of displaced persons, we find others who drink hot and cold water, wear three layers of long underwear and shorts (not at the same time), love dofu and cheese, and live otherwise convoluted lives.
Juliana gnaws on Mallary's finger

It was quite a month for Juliana as well:
*She put her feet in the sand and in the ocean and did a little swimming in the baby pool at the beach.  Did we tell you we bought one of those little neck inner-tubes?  Pretty fun.

*She enjoyed seeing so many new sights.  I could almost see her brain going crazy trying to process it all. Up to this point in China, she would usually fall asleep when we went out (being bundled up helped).  But when we walked down the street in Thailand, her head was constantly whipping back and forth trying to see everything at once.
*She loved being around lots of people.  She is a total extrovert (where did she get that from?).  We would get into the (usually crowded) elevator at our hotel and Juliana would excitedly look around for people to admire her.  She was friendly to other westerners, but she immediately beamed at Asians like they were her best friends.  And (no surprise) everyone loved her.

*Juliana was dedicated!  It was the first time they had done a baby dedication and I'm really glad they did.  It was very special, and we got to write our own prayer for Juliana.  Video to come!  Five other babies were also dedicated - including a three week old, born in Chiang Mai, and a set of twins born to a fifty year old!  There are now 120 children in our group, I think 14 born in the past year.  Juliana will have lots of friends!

*She went to childcare for the first time.  That was a new experience for both baby and parents, but Juliana had fun playing with new toys and even (gasp) fell asleep there once!

*She rolled over for the first time!  That was just a few days ago and already she is flipping over so fast I hardly have time to capture it on video.

*She has started drooling a lot and gnawing on everything she can get her mouth on.  I sincerely hope the teeth will hold off for a while longer!

Now we are back in Weinan, and though the nasty fog/smog/gloom is rather depressing, it's good to get re-settled.  I think Juliana will miss all the excitement and stimulation, but she is probably overdue for some calm time.  We still have two weeks before classes begin. 

Kevin is planning to start preparing for his classes because -for the first time ever- we actually got the class schedule before the holiday!  This means that two whole months before classes started they knew (1) what classes we would teach, (2) days and times for the classes, and in some cases even (3) room numbers!  We are still in shock.

I am planning to use this time to begin Operation Juliana Sleep.  You may hear more about this in the future.  Ideally, I will also go through some of our things and figure out what we can get rid of in anticipation of our move (still four months away).  But we'll see...this sleep thing might be pretty time consuming.  Juliana is a rather "high-needs"/resistant sleeper.

So that was our last month.  And now, back to reality. :)

1 comment:

Anna said...

Wow, a lot of craziness, but I'm glad that a lot of it was good too. =) Juliana is getting really big and I'm kind of afraid that she won't actually like me when she sees me again due to her natural preference for Asians. She looks super-cute in her swimsuit though. Did she enjoy swimming?

I hope you're able to get some rest over the next couple of weeks. We should talk sometime soon. =)