Thursday, July 25, 2013

Our American Summer


I've planned to write several blog posts in the past few weeks but somehow it's never happened.  It's funny how you can not be doing anything specific and still stay busy.  I guess we are experiencing the typical American summer.

I would pause here to make some cultural observations but they are all still too muddled.  After living away from your "home country" for long enough, you stop looking at it through insider eyes.  It makes more sense to take on a mindset more similar to when you first moved to another country.  It's not as confusing, because you still understand most of the rules, but some of the rules and some of the players have changed and nobody can tell you exactly which ones.  And sometimes it's just you that have changed - your inner rhythm is different from before, so you feel one step off from the world around.  Which isn't much different from how you feel in your "borrowed" country, except that nobody expects you to fit in there.  The nice thing is, after a while you just don't care as much.

Other than making vague cultural realizations, the past few weeks have been busy with seeing people.  Almost all of Kevin's friends and family are still in the general LA area (novel, huh?), so there are lots of people to try to catch up with every summer.  It's not quite as urgent this time since we will be back by the end of the year.  It's not long time compared to normal, but I guess, "If we don't catch you this time we'll try to work it out in 4 or 5 months" does seem kind of long.

Juliana has been having a great time playing with friends, with Nana and Gramps, and with her new toys.  She has been doing lots of drawing and made my sister a beautiful card full of spiders for her birthday.  She has done well during all our driving all over.  It helps that she can amuse herself by talking and singing for hours.  She likes to make up new songs.  Her latest hit, "I'm Lying on my Knees," reaches previously unmatched intensity and decibles.  She has already acquired a play house and car, so obviously she is adjusting well to American life.

I am busy being pregnant.  Overall I have been feeling better now that we're done with all that packing and moving and traveling craziness, but sometimes pregnancy catches up with you.  You might forget that your body is still working hard to grow this ever demanding (or at least ever active) baby...until you do too much and your body decides to not-so-politely let you know what it thinks about that.  The good thing about pregnancy is that you get to know that some day this madness will end and your body will get along with you again.  Apparently some people really love being pregnant.  But then some people love Nascar, asparagus, and Chinese opera, so there's a lot I don't understand in the world.

And I am now less than two months from my due date!  Juliana was 4 days early, so I'm holding out hope this one will be early too.  I sure wouldn't mind, and the kiddos probably wouldn't mind having their own birthdays afterall.  Of course I would like for baby to wait until she's actually ready to come out.  And definitely until after we make it to Georgia two weeks from now.

Last week we found out we are having another girl!  I didn't have a strong feeling or preference either way, I was just eager to find out.  Kevin had kind of been hoping for another girl, although he was thinking maybe it was a boy because I was much sicker this time.  We are excited for Juliana to have a sister, and we do have lots of cute girl clothes already!  When we bought a little outfit for the baby, Juliana was excited and tried to claim it for herself.  Which is pretty much how I expect the future to be.

Now we just need to decide on a name.  We aren't planning on revealing the name until the baby comes anyway, but it would be nice for us to know before then!  We asked Juliana what she thinks her little sister should be called, but since she calls her dolls "dolly" and "new dolly," and her stuffed cat "kitty," I don't think she quite gets the naming concept yet.

I promise to update again sometime in the next two months before baby arrives. In the meantime, we'll continue to enjoy our daily guacamole, try to see a few more family and friends, and ask baby to please be nice to mama.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Back to America


It hasn't been the easiest transition back to America.  The actual travel went quite smoothly.  At just under 24 hours total, it was probably about as short as our trips have ever been.  It was 9pm by the time we left Beijing, so Juliana actually fell asleep right away and slept for most of the next eight hours.  Kevin and I both slept more than we expected.  I was uncomfortable but I moved around a lot and the back pain wasn't as bad as I feared.  While awake, Juliana was mostly content to watch Chinese cartoons.  We didn't even have a long customs line at LAX, and our bags all arrived.

Since then, of course, we had to deal with lots of jetlag.  Juliana was waking up for several hours during the night, or waking up excitedly at 4am, done for the night.  Kevin has been sleeping in with Juliana since she was disturbed by sleeping in an unfamiliar room.  He has been trying to put on videos for Juliana and get some more sleep, but he still hasn't gotten a decent night yet.  I was waking up at 3 or 4am, not actually too different from before we left China, but it really wasn't cutting it.

I've had a cold for over three weeks and it was just starting to get better before we traveled, but since getting back I've felt worse and worse.  I was pretty sure it had turned into a sinus infection, so I finally went to the urgent care and got some antibiotics which will hopefully help quickly.

While urgent care isn't exactly the height of American healthcare, I was pleasantly surprised with this facility.  I was the only person waiting, the staff were all quite friendly and seemed competent.  Still I was a little surprised to find myself missing China.  I don't exactly relish going to the hospital in China, but I've gotten quite used to it.  I paid $50 to see the doctor thinking, "In China it would be closer to a dollar!" and $30 for antibiotics which I could have bought from a Chinese pharmacy for $2-3. American prices can be a rude awakening.

Juliana has also had two days of throwing up this week.  She has thrown up all over me and Kevin and her grandparents' new couches, which seemed to withstand the test pretty well.  I'm not sure what was causing the throwing up - a virus or just difficulty adjusting to America, but she finally seems to have recovered.  Of course, the days she spent sleeping and watching cartoons almost all day didn't help with jetlag.  We've been back for a week, but last night she was still awake from 1am until amost 6am, which is really not okay.

Other than all the sickness and not sleeping, I suppose the transition is going okay, though.  Aided by plenty of fun new toys and grandparent attention, Juliana seems pretty happy with America.  She has even adjusted quite quickly to flushing toilet paper and gets upset if I even blow my nose and then put tissue in the trashcan.  "NO!  Not in the trash!  In America tissue goes in the potty!!"  If only the rest of potty training was transferring so easily.  I feel like about 75% of the progress made was left in China.

In the past Juliana has always called me, "mama," which is also what Chinese children call their mothers.  I was thinking that after hearing her American friends using "mommy" she might make the change, but I didn't expect her to change quite so quickly!  About two days after we got here she started calling me "mommy" and now that's all she will use.  It reminds me of the time my sisters decided we were too old to use "mommy" any more and we should all switch to "mom."  From that day forward there was no going back.  Fortunately we're not to that transition yet!

One week down and 7+ months to go.  Hopefully America will be kinder to us from here on out!  At least we'll only have two cross-country trips and 3 hour jetlags, plus a minor new-baby transition to deal with, so from here on out it should be pretty easy going, right?