Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Juliana goes for her first walk in the snow

by Kevin

It snowed a few days ago here, so Juliana had her first chance to walk in (a little bit of) snow. Enjoy...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Me, Juliana and 1000 Other People

Today I went to the supermarket, which is not interesting in itself except that it is 4 days before Spring Festival/Chinese New Year. So it's kind of like going to the mall 4 days before Christmas, except the people are all Chinese and there's a thousand more of them. I'm terrible at numbers estimation, but the store is packed. I would say a thousand is a conservative estimate. There are probably a couple hundred just in the produce/meat section. I knew it would be pretty crazy, so I decided to bring Juliana along. She's been cooped up in the house too much, and she enjoys crowds more than I do.

Outside the weather is actually starting to get warmer already. It's probably high 20's (F). Balmy. Juliana and I walk to the supermarket because it is just around the corner, not more than 10 minutes away. Well, technically she walks the first 100 yards and then I push her in the stroller. Outside the store, rows of sellers are lined up with tables covered in colorful fireworks boxes.

People are already buying up fireworks and “testing” them every day in preparation for The Mother Of All Fireworks Days. This is nothing like the 4th of July or New Years in America. China is serious about its fireworks.

Usually I check the stroller and transfer Juliana to a cart, but today I decide to stick with the stroller and a basket, since I don't have much to buy. It's a good decision as all the carts are already taken. I see a lot of laden carts but don't actually pay much attention to what everyone is buying. I am too occupied with trying to maneuver the stroller through the crowds. Juliana gets lots of extra attention, questions, and touches. The store seems to be manned with about a hundred extra workers offering samples and hawking their goods; each aisle seems to have at least two of them.

I don't have much to buy but by the time I get to the checkout (all the lanes are open and the lines are full), Juliana is getting antsy. Several people try to cut in front of me and I give them the old “basket to the side.” I am unwilling to give an inch, pushing the stroller up to about 3mm from the lady's feet in front of us. When I first came to China I was disturbed by all the pushing and people standing 3cm from me in line. I have since learned if there is more than 6 in between you and the person in front of you, it is grounds for someone to break in front of you. I have also become adept at pushing.

Juliana starts fussing, not outright wailing, but definitely making her impatience known. Instead of giving dirty looks, the people around try to distract her; they hate to see a child upset, especially a cute foreign one. The family ahead of us tells me to go in front of them since the baby is tired. I am very appreciative. People in this country a great about children.

We break free of the store and head back home, managing to avoid being hit by anything as we forge our way across the streets. I really am more careful when I'm with Juliana, but really, everyone stands in the middle of the road. Home again, home again: no more shopping again until after the holiday!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

16 Month Update

Lately at seems like Juliana has been growing by leaps and bounds. Sometimes literally! When she turned one it was hard to realize she wasn't technically a baby anymore, but now she has entered toddler-hood full force. Here are some of the phenomenal and amusing things she is doing lately:
So silly!

*Crawling is a thing of the past; Juliana walks expertly inside and out, although she has not yet mastered our six flights of stairs. Maybe next month. Walking has granted her tremendous speed, something she has found particularly useful when sneaking into places where she's not supposed to be. I open the door to the kitchen or bathroom and .237 seconds later she magically appears behind me. Usually with a mischievous grin.
All bundled up for a walk

*Juliana is still as social as ever, although she has gotten more suspicious of strangers, particularly if they aren't Chinese. She gets super excited to be around other kids and she prefers interaction about 99% of her waking hours.

*I definitely appreciate Juliana's zest for life, although I don't always enjoy the way it is sometimes expressed: a very loud, very high pitched squeal. The more excited and/or tired she is, the higher pitched the squeal. She gets soo excited about things. And by things I really mean people.

*In the past couple of weeks, Juliana has been adding a new word almost every day. Her most recent additions are Jesus (how very spiritual), trash (I really don't know why), night-night, and meow. A few times she has also said “xie-xie” (Chinese for thank you) and once she very clearly said “qu wan'r” (play outside). She also says long sentences of full gibberish, and she likes to whisper secrets in her own special code language.

*Juliana has been having a marvelous time with all the new toys from Grandpa and Yaya. In top place are a cat piano and a ride-on train. She can play the cat piano with several different sounds (organ, banjo, cat meows), she can choose her own dance rhythm (her favorite is disco), and she can also play various pre-recorded melodies. Wait till she discovers the microphone and volume control button!! When not enjoying train rides around the apartment, Juliana enjoys storing toys in its seat-compartment, pushing it around, attempting to stand on the seat, and naturally – pushing buttons and pulling levers to play even more music!
Multitasking at play: Juliana likes to sit on her train AND play her cat piano

*Grandpa and Yaya were just here for a cut-short one week visit. Juliana was very happy to have extra play pals. They built block towers, played “dig through the suitcases,” indulged in lots of tickles, and of course played lots of music. Juliana quickly learned to yell, “YA-YA!!” whenever Grandma left the room. She also learned grandparents just can't resist her charming smile and oh-so-innocent pleading eyes.

*Grandma Yaya declared Juliana to be the “dancingest” baby she's ever seen. Juliana loves to dance. Any time she hears a snatch of music (which is about 50 times a day) she starts waving her arms around, bobbing her head, and strutting around. It's funny every time. She also has an amazing sense of rhythm.
Block feet (for Grandma too!)
*Juliana has been sleeping through the night about half of the time, on average. She will do great for a while and then she'll start teething again or get sick and it totally throws her off! Lately she has still been taking a morning nap (with some persuasion) but she usually thinks she doesn't need it any more.

*When she gets upset (usually because she is overtired or hungry) sometimes she will wail pathetically, sneak a peek to make sure someone is looking, and then sprawl on the ground, banging her head just gently enough that it doesn't hurt. It's so hard not to laugh! I think we are going to have a big drama queen on hands.

*Usually Juliana still eats a large variety of foods: rice, cheese, tofu, eggs, fish brains... She has started to have some picky days when she just decides she doesn't like her previous favorite foods. I try to remember to be relaxed about it and realize that over a few days or a week, she really does get the food she needs, and when she's not eating, she usually has a reason.

*For all of her energy and enthusiasm, there are times when Juliana will focus in and work on something for 15 or 20 minutes: building with blocks, putting anything into containers. Her fine motor skills have improved a ton and sometimes I'm amazed by how adept she is at small tasks.
Practicing with the block sorter

*Our apartment has a lot of mirrors built into the walls and furniture, and Juliana loves to look at the baby in the mirror. She likes to watch her play and they often exchange friendly waves and kisses.

*Juliana learned to say “Jesus”from her “Jesus Loves Me” book I often read/sing to her at night. Lately she has tried to sing along! She also loves the songs “Old MacDonald” and “Pop Goes the Weasel,” where she adds her own “e-i-e-i-o” and “pop!” respectively.
The cardboard box: Still Juliana's favorite way to travel

*When Juliana turns 16 months (on the 19th), it will be the first time her number of flights (15) will be less than the months of her life.  That will last for a full four days before we take our next flight.  We'll be adding 8 more flights in the next month, so she may never catch up again!