Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Good news, fair readers. After much deliberation, and let me tell you, it was a lot, Noodles (and rob!) have finally settled on a name for their youngster: Justin Thomas. Cute, huh? Here he is with his pacifier, looking cute as can be. Notice his wrinkled forehead, the patented family "monkey face."

Monday, December 25, 2006


Good news, fair readers. On the evening of December 22, around 11:45, our Noodles delivered the baby, whom we have affectionately been referring to as the muzz. Weighing in at 7 lbs 6 ounces and measuring 21 inches long, the muzz is a perfectly proportioned little darling. Noodles had only gone to the hospital at around 9 pm, so everything happened extremely quickly. So quickly, in fact, that there was no time for any pain medication. Noodles is a hardy one. Thinking of her birthing a baby sans anything for pain envokes Rosie the Riveter - esque images.

But here's the surprise. You know how everyone was expecting the muzz to be a girl? How all these months we'd been amassing pink ruffled things galore? Well, it turns out that the muzz is a boy! HA HA! Luckily there were enough "gender neutral" things on hand to properly outfit the lad.

Muzz is still without a name, but he's handling it pretty well. Both he and Noodles are doing well. Immediately after the muzz was born, Noodles no longer felt the urge to vomit all the time, which she'd experienced through all 9 months of pregnancy. It's truly a Christmas miracle.

Rubella (that's Rob) got into town on the evening of the 23rd, so we're all making merry together. Huzzah!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Testing, testing, one two three!?

It's me, Noodles' sister. I'm just testing out this cyber diary in preparation for the baby's birth, when I'll be taking over the noodles (and rob!) turf for awhile.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sigh. I am ready for my baby to be born already. At my doctor's appointment yesterday the doctor said that I might be ready, but my body isn't ready yet. I am now up 50 pounds and ready to get rid of some of this weight! I am tired of having my back hurt. I am also tired of vomiting! Doctor said he could give me something to reduce the nausea, but at this point in the pregnancy I might as well hold out and be able to tell Baby that I threw up the entire nine months. Due date isn't that far away!
I realize that my due date is Dec 30th, but I am full term so I consider her due now. If your taxes are due on a certain date they need to be in on or before that date or they are late. Baby would no longer be considered a preemie, therefore she is not early. Being born now would be on time. What is wrong with my body? I am not one who likes to wait for the last minute. Perhaps next week she will be ready.
Of course there are still plenty of things that I could do to be better prepared for her to come, but I don't think that those things are going to happen so she might as well just be born. Today, tomorrow, next week, next month-- whenever she comes I will wish I had done this or that before she came.
Now about a million people want to be called or e-mailed when Baby is born. Nice, but not very realistic. I will try to get the word out, but no promises. Hopefully I can get my mom or Rob or someone to let people know. I will try to get someone to update this blog too with all the information like name, date and time of birth, weight, etc. etc. Check back often. Hopefully she will be born soon!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Back in the USA

I have been back in the States for almost a month. I spent a week at my parents' house before taking off for Portland, OR to visit my brother and his family. He and his wife have three boys under six years old and they are VERY busy boys. The pictures, however, do not show that. The oldest two just LOVE the baby and would talk to her, sing to her, play pat-a-cake with her, and even got their picture taken with her (or at least my belly). The youngest one liked to kick the baby a lot when I would hold him, so he often ended up on the floor. I did get him to sleep once. I guess I made a comfortable pillow.
After a week in Portland I returned to my parents house. I rested up for a week before my brother and his family came out here for Thanksgiving. Busy boys around me once again! They really can wear a person out, especially a pregnant person who is 45 pounds heavier than she used to be.
It has been good to see family and to reintroduce my body to junk food! I have enjoyed Krispy Kreme doughnuts, pop tarts, toaster streudels, pies, chips and dip, Breyer's ice cream, typical Thanksgiving feast food, sour patch kids, and many other WONDERFUL things I didn't have in China. I have been able to eat at such gourmet restaurants as Wendy's, Taco Bell, Carl's Jr, and IHOP.
There is a lot more shopping too. My husband has noticed that I am spending more money here than I did in China. I can't imagine how much I would spend if I felt better! I thought shopping would be more fun, but somehow needing to go to the bathroom every little while takes a lot of the fun out of shopping. I also feel like a big cow moving through the stores and don't want to look at anything that isn't at eye level. Bending over makes me need to puke. (Yes, I am eight months pregnant and STILL puking a couple of times a day.)
I need to get so much stuff for the baby. It seems like an endless list of things that she will need. I thought looking at things would be fun, but it is overwhelming. I went to Babies R Us when I was in Portland. There were WAY too many pregnant women or people with small children trying to shop while perky sales people smiled and easily moved around the store. Too many choices there for me, plus not a convenient location. I left with only a diaper bag and a few ideas.
Now that I am back in the US and could actually spend time in the stores, I find that online is easier. I spend a lot of time looking at and wishing that they had all the things that they have in the store online. I want some things that are in the store, but don't have energy to go get the little registry zap gun to add the things to my registry that I can't add online. I suppose that is okay as it is mostly for me anyway. I am hoping that I haven't accumulated too much pink stuff for a baby that is most likely a girl. She could still decide to surprise us and come out a he instead. Then the baby and I would spend his first little bit of life making returns/exchanges.
Well, Baby is hiccuping yet AGAIN. My stomach is jumping around all over the place. Sigh. I hate when she gets the hiccups. It quickly went from cute to most annoying. I am hoping that she is born a little early, preferably BEFORE Christmas!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Last China Post for awhile...

I leave tomorrow for Beijing, spend the night, and continue on through Japan and Portland before arriving in Spokane. I HOPE that nothing happens between here and Beijing that is in anyway blog worthy.

Anyway, yesterday I went for a walk and said good-bye to my friends Sewing Machine Lady and her mom. Since I was with a few other people we decided to venture into Sewing Machine Lady's "housing development". Though in my neighborhood and visible from my bedroom window, it is quite different from where I live. There has been a lot of recent development in the area where I live and I am hoping that when I come back from the US that Sewing Machine Lady and her mother have not had to move. It won't be too long before someone will want to tear down that building and all the squatters will be forced to relocate.

I wish that I had a super good digital camera because I could get some very interesting shots from my bedroom window. These homes have no heat and only whatever electricity they can find from nearby and pirate. Looking down you can get a view of the whole setup and not cause any attention. Having a foreigner (probably even a Chinese person who doesn't "belong" there) going down the narrow corridor that leads to this interior courtyard of housing is something that is immediately noticed. Very hard to blend.

Leek and sour cabbage season is approaching, and people have it outside EVERYWHERE to dry. It hangs out of windows, rests on sidewalks and streets, and is constantly underfoot. There was even some out on the bank steps. If I had to eat like the locals, I would lose quite a bit of weight. I would have to be really hungry to want some of the stuff they eat.

The other night I did go out with some consulate people to a Uighur restaurant. (Look up Uighur in a search engine if you don't know about this Chinese minority). I ate bread and fatty lamb kababs until I was ready to burst. SO good! Right now just thinking about it I want to walk over and grab a few for lunch. At 12 cents a kabob it is hard to go wrong! It is a local restaurant, but Uighur food and not typical of Northeast China so I don't know that it counts as eating like a local.

Here are some pictures of me from October 29th. My last pregnant pictures in China. I leave October 31st!
Thirty pounds heavier already and two months to go. :(

Sunday, October 22, 2006

October 22, 2006

Still pregnant, and even bigger! Even my three year old nephew, Ian, has to admit that I look like I have a baby ready to pop out of me. Is it December yet?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Here are some new pics of me. The one in the black dress is from yesterday (10/8) and the one with ultraman is from today. I was told that in the black dress unless looking at me from the side that I didn't look pregnant, just fat. Great.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

My Conversation with a Cab Driver

Sure, I have been taking Chinese lessons since January. I started out with two hours, twice a week. I went to Bangkok in February and took 2 weeks off. I went to Australia in March and took 3 weeks off. I got pregnant and felt miserable for the first trimester and took 3 months off. In July I started again, but this time two hours one time a week. In September my teacher cut me back to one hour a week because I shouldn't sit still for so long. So when you look at it, I really haven't had as much time learning Chinese as you would think. When I don't feel like I am progressing much, Rob reminds me that I rarely study or even go over any of the materials except when my teacher is here. I guess that means I must be doing alright. This is how a conversation with a cab driver goes when I am forced to speak in Chinese.

Me: Hello.
Cab Driver: Hello. Where are you going?
Me: American Consulate
Cab Driver: Okay.
Cab Driver: (asks me a question)
Me: I don't understand. I don't speak Chinese.
Cab Driver: You are going to the American Consulate. Are you American?
Me: Yes, I am.
Cab Driver: (asks me a question)
Me: I don't understand.
Cab Driver: What's your name?
Me: I'm Wei Lin.
Cab Driver: (asks me a question)
Me: I don't understand.
Cab Driver: Do you want me to go straight or turn left here?
Me: It doesn't matter.
Cab driver turns left and then right and we are at the end of the block where he will let me off. I give him about $1.
Me: Thank you.
Cab Driver: Good bye
Me: Good bye.

I have decided that "I don't understand" is probably the most important phrase I know. I use it all the time. The other key phrases are "American Consulate" and "Intercontinental Hotel" so I can get places. Maybe Baby is hearing enough Chinese that she will be better with the tones. :)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Shenyang International Horticultural Expo

Rob and I finally made it to the expo. It is here in Shenyang this year, about 25 km outside of the city. It opened in May and is running through October. We had planned on going earlier, but either I was miserable with morning sickness, Rob had to work, it was bad weather, or something. We didn't want to go on a Chinese holiday or the weekend either and be part of a sea of a million people. If we wanted to be around a lot of Chinese people we could just stay in the city.

It was nice to get out of the city and see some color. Living in the city is sometimes like living in grayscale. There were lots of flowers, trees, and some open space. The day was overcast, with rain in the afternoon. The high was only 65 degrees so it was a good day for us to go. I get tired enough without hot weather making things more difficult.

While it was nice to get out in the city, the expo was not all that thrilling. A lot of the countries that had gardens really seemed to have more of a gift shop than a garden. The gardens representing different cities in China were better done. Of course it is kind of strange to be in China looking at fake old Chinese buildings when we could see real ones outside of the expo.

It was good to get out though and if we hadn't gone I would have been disappointed.

We really liked the American Garden, which had a number of large busts representing famous Americans. They were not very well done. Rosa Parks looked like a guy. :( I had Rob pose next to Thomas JCLLERSON. It was spelled correctly on the bottom part of the sign. There were quite a few times that there would be one correct and one incorrect spelling on the same sign. Go figure!

They had some pretty comfy swings. Do I look relaxed? After Rob took the picture I let him sit with me. :)

There were several areas of open grass which were protected from trampling by little snail signs that found polite ways to basically say keep off the grass.

My favorite part of the expo was the bridge area. There were several types of bridges crossing over a small body of water. Some were easy, while others were quite challenging. I didn't see anyone fall in today. If the weather had been warmer I bet people would have "accidently" fallen in. The weather was cool enough today that it would not be pleasant. One woman kept starting on the trapeze type bridge, but then chickening out as she would step from the first rung towards the second. I didn't see anyone else even begin to attempt that one.
It seemed like it would be a really fun thing to have over a swimming pool or lake, but of course in the States there would be too many liability issues to just let anyone who wanted to attempt it have a chance. There were a couple of employees scattered around the area with bullhorns. They didn't seem to do anything though. There were also a few life preservers tossed in every little ways. Sometimes after a group would dare someone to try a bridge they would stand at the end and shake the bridge to make it harder to cross. None of the bridges called out to Rob and I conveniently used my pregnancy as an excuse not to try any out.
Actually, we did cross one, the floating bridge, which was calm, level, and had railings. It was the easiest way to get to where we wanted to go.
Here I am in my 26th week. I am so looking forward to going back to the States and being able to get a haircut. I have so much long, thick hair that wants to do nothing but frizz out into a big ole afro. Of course I suppose I could spend more time trying to do something with it since I don't have a lot of things that I have to do during the day. Since I don't really have anywhere that I have to go looking decent I guess it isn't worth the effort.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

If only I had known earlier...

One of my handy dandy pregnancy tips arrived in my e-mail inbox the other day. It gave me handy fashion tips such as not wearing horizontal stripes because they will make me look bigger. Oh no! Someone might think I am pregnant! Instead it suggests that I wear dark colors, such as black for a slendering effect. As if that would do it! I should also wear tight, clingy clothes to show off my new curves. No one really wants me to wear tight and clingy things when I am not pregnant, now it is is scary thought!
I guess I should also do my hair and make-up so that when I am home all day (STILL puking at almost 6 months along) I am at my best. Instead I consider it an accomplishment to be out of bed and dressed by 10:30 in the morning. Getting fatter and heavier, but still not glowing unless you count the way my face is a bit flushed after vomiting...

Monday, September 11, 2006

There’s some lovely filth over here…
In Monty Python and the Holy Grail there is a scene in which King Arthur encounters two peasants digging around in the mud looking for heaven only knows what. Not too different here in Shenyang. No, I haven’t seen anyone dressed up like King Arthur and I don’t think the people are referred to as peasants, but same general idea. As I walk down the streets I can’t help but see people digging through dumpsters looking for treasures. Perhaps it is something that they could use; something cast out that still has some use left in it. Generally people are collecting recyclables that they can turn in for cash. It might be cans, glass, plastic, cardboard, newspaper, or any number of things. Sometimes the people have bicycles with carts on them, allowing them to ride from dumpster to dumpster as they pile the loot on the cart. When our cheap DVD player died I didn’t want to just throw it out in the trash here at the hotel. I wanted someone to get something out of it. Surely a broken DVD player can be repaired or recycled somehow. I made my poor husband put it in a dumpster on his way to pick up some soda at the nearby convenience store. When he came back only minutes later, it was long gone. I have some old shoes I want to get rid of. I wish someone could get use out of them, but let’s face it, what Chinese woman is looking for size 10 ½ shoes? I hesitate to trash them in a nearby dumpster because I am afraid my friend, Sewing Machine Lady’s Mom (I will have to write about her sometime), will find them and pull them out for me because she thinks they might fit me! (Her feet were once bound and are very tiny. We have compared her little deformed feet to my huge clodhoppers.) I don’t want the shoes as they are, let alone dirty and smelly from the dumpster! Now while dumpsters are the likely place to find things, they aren’t the only place. After a building has been demolished people scour the area looking for things that might be left in the rubble. There could be all kinds of good stuff! Of course if it is freezing, a nice fire helps warm up passersby and creates a nice hang out spot.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

How many Chinese people does it take to get a lightbulb changed?

No, it is not exactly a joke. It is the event of the day.

I have had a couple of burnt out fluorescent bulbs in the kitchen for some time now. I have been putting off getting them replaced. Why, you may ask. Am I too lazy to do it? Too cheap to buy the new bulbs? No. The hotel likes to do these things for us because of their "delicate wiring" that impacts so many. In my mind I replace "delicate wiring" with "shoddy workmanship and potentially dangerous wiring" but that's just me.

Today was the day. 5:00 I call down to the front desk and explain my problem. I am told that housekeeping will be right up to fix it. I think things are going too well. Could it possibly be that someone from housekeeping can replace lights? I won't keep you in suspense. The woman, who arrived almost immediately, saw the problem and asked to use the phone. She called someone and said some things in Chinese and then told me someone would be up very soon.

Once again, very promptly, help arrived. This time in the form of an assistant manager and a security guy. They examined my problem and made a call. Someone from engineering would be right up.

As promised, engineering showed up. There was main dude, guy who hands things to main dude, and supervisor(?) dude. Of course assistant manager and security guy are still here as well. The mounts for the lights were unscrewed and removed. New lights were put in and then the lights were remounted. Supervisor(?) dude periodically used his cell phone to update heaven-only-knows-who on the progress.

Shortly after 6:00 pm the project was done. The kitchen is once again much brighter. And it only took seven people to help me with this issue. Just think, if assistant manager guy hadn't spoken English I would have also gotten translator dude!

For those of you wondering why I have not yet had my pictures hung on the walls, well, you can probably know imagine. I need to plan a full day with lots of helpers.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Over Halfway There!

Well, here is a picture of me at about five months. I am 24 weeks pregnant, 60% down, 40% to go. Who's counting though? I am beginning to wonder if vomiting will become so natural to me that I will continue to do it after Baby is born. :(
This is one of my new maternity shirts that Mrs. Wong made. I went to the cloth market today to get more fabric. Maternity clothes are definitely much more comfortable than my pre-maternity clothes. I am wondering if those pre-maternity clothes will ever fit again!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I got the pictures I bought in Xi'an framed. I think they turned out well. I really don't have an eye for figuring out what borders and frames work. I think I lied to my family and said it cost $25 to frame them, but it was really almost $32. I think that is a good deal. I need to come up with more things to frame.

Rob evidently doesn't like them. He hasn't said as much exactly. He just is glad that I like them.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

August 21st (Monday)

We arrived in Beijing last night and had a WONDERFUL dinner at TGI Friday's. I had been looking forward to that since I knew we were coming to Beijing. Baby loves fried cheese. :) We each ordered an appetizer and a main dish, which was way too much, but so good. I love a chance to get American food. A lot of tourists come to Beijing and want the duck, jiaozi (dumplings) or something else Chinese.

Rob got up before I did on Monday and went in to the Embassy. I slept in a little, had breakfast at the hotel, and started walking around. I got tired and decided to get on the subway. At about 36 cents a ticket, it is quite affordable. I got off near the Silk Market. It was huge and sells everything, not just silk. I was excited at first, but ended up being quite disappointed. The vendors are used to a lot of tourists and are very aggressive and start the bargaining process high! One vendor tried to convince me that 2000 kuai (about $250) was quite a bargain. I talked her down to 100 kuai (about $12.50). Since she agreed to that, she was still obviously making a profit. Many of the vendors would grab your arm and almost all would call out to you and shove their wares in your face. I don't particularly like the whole bargaining thing to begin with, but it was just insane. A lot of the stuff I wouldn't want if it was free. Some of the stuff was interesting, but I don't know what it would do besides clutter up the house. I think it would be different if I lived there. I could take in the insanity a little at a time, get a feel for what prices should be, and maybe get some neat things. I guess I will have to see what I can end up with here in Shenyang.

Rob called me on my cell phone when he was finished at the Embassy. We met up for lunch at a restaurant someone recommended to him, the Mexican Wave. It wasn't good Mexican food, but it was decent. Then back to the hotel for some rest. I sure love my rest. :)

Tuesday, August 22nd-- The Great Wall (Ba Da Ling)

It keeps going and going and going and going.....

Yes, we went to the touristy part of the wall. We could have driven further or gone to a more "hard core" hiking/climbing kind of place, but we didn't. Rob has a nasty cold and I am, well, lugging around this baby inside of me. Ugh. Beats carrying it kicking and screaming up the wall. I needed lots of rests. It was steeper than it looked. I thought stairs would be a welcome change to walking on a steep grade. Not necessarily the case. The steps are worn, some missing chunks out of them. They are VERY uneven in height and width as well. Sometimes I could easily take three stairs at a time, sometimes it was a climb doing one. See the tower at the top of the picture? Yep, we trekked it up there. From there we walked a bit furter and took a cable car down. I found it quite enjoyable, but Rob does not like cable cars.

Great Wall, Part Two

After we rode down on the cable car from the south side, we rode the cable car up to the north side of the wall. Rob didn't enjoy the cable car going up anymore than he did going down. It did save us a lot of walking though. We then walked down the north side. There were still ups and downs, but mostly downs. I had to watch my step carefully in places, but it took a lot less energy. Quality of the wall varied quite a bit, though since it is a tourist part it is all maintained. My friend, June, went to a less popular spot of the wall. I have put up a picture of her and her cousin. There hike was a lot harder as you can see! There are some sections that are even more difficult. I think Ba Da Ling section was just what I needed to be able to say that I have been on the Great Wall.

When we got back to Beijing, we had our driver drop us off at TGIFriday's
Wednesday, August 23rd Today was ultrasound day! We went to the hospital and the doctor was able to show us what appears to be a healthy baby developing right on schedule. It is nice to see arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, toes, eyes, nose, mouth (opening and closing), kidneys, spine, heart (with four working chambers) etc. Of course the big question: will it be a boy or a girl...? Well, there was no penis to be found, so the assumption is girl, though we were told it could be an uncooperative boy. So, the question in my mind is am I glad to know that? I want to get excited about a girl now, but what if a boy pops out? Don't want too many pink frilly dresses in the closet! For lunch we went to TGIFriday's for fried cheese. Okay, we got the Three-For-All and Tex Mex Tower appetizers and ate (most of) those. Yum! We took a cab to Temple of Heaven. It is a nice park with beautiful grounds to walk on and some interesting things to see. We (especially me) were tired from yesterday at the Great Wall. Put me in 90 degree heat with sore calves and a bladder that needs frequent emptying and it doesn't take long for me to have my fill of seeing things. I primarily wanted to see this one building (you can see me in the picture). I think it is absolutely beautiful! From there we left through the East Gate and went to the Pearl Market. We walked through rather quickly and didn't buy anything. I enjoy browsing and the Pearl Market is not as aggressive as the Silk Market. I was tired and didn't feel like doing a lot of bargaining. Plus, it is more fun to shop with someone. Rob doesn't count as shopping with someone because he doesn't like to shop. He will wait and let me shop, but he doesn't participate. We went behing the Silk Market to the smaller Toy Market. Rob actually got some things! I was so excited that he found some things that he liked. He got some flashlights and swimming goggles. We didn't get "Chinese prices" but we didn't pay "White prices" either and felt we were getting a deal. Back to the hotel to rest, download pics, and blog. Soon it will be time to find dinner. Sizzler perhaps?

After resting on Thursday we decided to go to the Summer Palace on Friday. The area is absolutely HUGE! We could have spent days there, but feet were tired and weather was hot and humid.

The only part that I did not like was San Something Street. It costs an extra $1.25 if you don't have an all inclusive ticket. We did have the all inclusive ticket, and I thought it sounded interesting. We hiked around the park to find it. Basically it is a blocked off part of the river (with drawbridges on each end) that has shops surrounding it and a little skinny narrow walkway (no railings). Yes, it ends up that you are paying to see the little shops, which are not that different from those you would see anywhere else. Rob and I decided that the only reason they charge is to keep it from being crowded. If they didn't charge, it would be so packed that people would be falling in the water right and left.
When we were finished seeing all we wanted to see, back to the hotel for a nap before a late lunch. Resting in the hotel was definitely the constant throughout our trip. :)