California Sun 暑假

Well I'm going out west where I belong
Where the days are short and the nights are long

-The Ramones

Well, that’s a wrap! Another great summer in the land of our birth: sunny and hot California. Seven weeks of good eating, family time, and of course, California sun.

To soak up that California sun, we packed up Dumpling and all her accouterments for her very first plane ride for her very first trip to the land of her citizenship. The summer of 2017 hereafter shall be known as summer of firsts for Dumpling: first plane ride, first time to the ocean, first time to Lake Tahoe, first filet mignon, first time meeting an adoring handful of aunties and uncles and a rambunctious bunch of cousins.

This filet mignon is soooo good

Unfortunately, Dumpling didn’t make it to one of California’s hotspots, Disneyland; but who needs Disneyland when there’s Moomoo and Aunty Sunny’s houses? The toys were beyond imagination! Toys that beep, sing, vibrate, glow, roll, collapse, expand, float, and elevate. Soft toys. Hard toys. Animal toys. Food toys. You name it, California’s got it.

That is some toy!
But even better than the toys were the cousins. I must say, the cousins know how to put on a show. While Milan jumped around like a silly kangaroo, Capri shared all her favorite toys. Caden was like a gentle protective big brother, while Zephram’s got zany moves. Keiko and Kenji were all smiles and brought out a selection of stuffed toys. Four-year old Enzo put his nose right up to Dumpling’s, and said with impressive diction, “You’re impressive!” Dumpling couldn’t contain herself waving her hands and giggling with excitement.

Vacation came to an end too soon and we got out of California’s hot sun and into Beijing’s muggy one. Dumpling still hasn’t adjusted to the fourteen hour time change. Every morning Dumpling is ready to party at 4 am and go down for the night at 7 am. In addition to the time change, she's adjusting to only having her two boring parents around. I think she is seriously missing California and all its fun-ness. Well, even a baby must learn the hard truth: we can’t be on vacation all the time!

Time to get into a routine. birdMAN goes back to work in a few weeks and I have got lots of child-rearing and homemaking to do.

California sun, we’ll catch you later!

P.S. Many thanks to our generous friends and family that fed us, held and adored our baby, and showered her with gifts. We love you!

Chinese Word of the Blog: 暑假 Shǔjià
English Translation: summer vacation

My parents' house gets lot of California sun
Thank you Capri for the toy
Cuties Kalea and Caleb pop by for a visit
As you can see, Dumpling is absolutely thrilled to meet Oliver
Elliot entertaining as always
My Meimei loves food just as much as I do
Can I please have a lick?
Syche in the house!
A trip to Santa Cruz is just we needed!
 These Georgians miss the west coast
Happy to catch up with longtime friends and meet their new ones
There are so many avocados here
Look at all these one quarter Chinese kids
Moomoo's house serves up a fancy ladies lunch
All Moomoo's grandkids are under one roof. Poor Roman is outnumbered by the girls.
Dumpling meets her great grandma. They like each other.
Aunty Coco is the best aunty in the world!
These well-behaved children can't wait for turkey dinner (in July!)
Cousin Capri is a good mama
Capri -- too sweet for words
Lake Tahoe: Nice day to lug around a heavyweight
Food: A good reason to go to California
The tradition lives on! Milan and I make peanut butter blossom cookies
We got purdy for family pics
First time in Donner Lake
The ladies plus Roman
Dumpling's first hot dog
Donner Lake
Does this picture show what these cousins future relationship will be like?
Dumpling takes center stage
Aunty Tami meets our little princess
And here is our favorite doula!
Getting some Keiko love.
Cheese plate. 'Nuff said.
The best toys are free

Sometimes we go out...especially if it involves beer
All that fun-ness is exhausting


Elevation 坐飞机

High, higher than the sun
You shoot me from a gun
I need you to elevate me here,
At the corner of your lips
As the orbit of your hips
Eclipse, you elevate my soul

The day we leave she woke up happy 
I have heard about those babies. You know the ones that fall asleep in their cribs with minimal fuss then wake up eight to twelve hours later. Or if they do fuss, a few soothing pats and “sshhh” will settle them back to dreamland.

Not my Dumpling. For the most part, she is very content, happy, and personable. That is until she realizes she's tired. The light switch turns off. The clock strikes midnight. Amiable Dr. Jekyll becomes evil Mr. Hyde. My Dumpling’s adorable coos suddenly become inconsolable crying. We don't bedtime story or lullaby,  Dumpling's bedtime and naptime routine is a jaunt in the Ergo around the neighborhood.

So the thought of a 14 hour flight across the Pacific from Beijing to California was daunting. I imagined that we would be walking a screaming --or at least a very tense six month old baby-- up and down the aisles, circumventing the meal cart and sufferers of restless leg syndrome. I hoped beyond hope that my nap resistant Dumpling would nurse/sleep the whole way and I could catch up on six months of movie watching.

Neither case happened. Dumpling neither screamed or slept. OK, she slept a bit. Thankfully, she fell asleep during takeoff and stayed asleep for the following hour and half. Then she woke up. Bright eyed. Curious. Smiling and flapping her arms in excitement. Entertaining the stewards and fellow passengers.

birdMAN and I spent the transpacific flight taking turns amusing Dumpling, walking her up and down the aisles, attempting to rock her to sleep and succeeding in a few fitful naps, and chatting with friendly elderly Chinese ladies. By the time we arrived in Seattle, Dumpling’s time asleep totaled about four hours and her exhausted parents zero. Even so, birdMAN managed to watch a good portion of TV and I sort of watched “Florence Foster Jenkins” and “Lego Batman Movie.”

For Dumpling, the novelty of flying wore thin by the time we started the last leg of our travel. From Seattle to Sacramento, our tense-wide-eyed-sleep-deprived-wild-child threatened total meltdown. Yet, she still managed to smile and flap her arms in excitement at fellow passengers. That's my Little Miss Personality. She just can't turn it off.

Dumpling finally did fall asleep in her first ride ever in a car seat from the airport to Moomoo’s house. She slept the next two days like a corpse (or normal baby?), after which she returned to usual sleep resistant self. Turned out not sleeping for the majority of the plane flight made adjusting to the jet lag a cinch.

So we got one China-to-America flight down. And many, many, many more to go. We'll all be pros soon.

Chinese Word of the Blog: 坐飞机 zuò fēijī (literally, sit airplane)
English translation: to take a plane flight

About to take off. She looks worried.

Made it to Seattle
Let's Ergo her to sleep
First time in a carseat and slept like a baby

Everyone is tired
The next evening we're all smiles


This Fire 上火

Eyes boring a way through me
Paralyse, controlling completely
Now there is a fire in me
A fire that burns
-Franz Ferdinand

We are just two Americans with a very pink baby surrounded by Chinese people, many of which who are more than happy to offer unsolicited and sometimes scientifically unsound advice. I'm sure Americans also offer unsolicited and scientifically unsound advice, but perhaps because of the cultural gap, I find most of the Chinese advice utterly absurd.

Sometimes the advice is more like commands. When she's wearing her flower headband: “You can't put that headband on that baby! It's too hot and so much trouble!” But that flower headband is sooo cute and girly. Or if she's barefoot: “She needs socks! Her feet will get cold!” But it's 90F. How can her feet get cold? When she's in the Ergo: “That's bad for her back! You should carry her so she lays flat!” Well, Ergo says it's safe sooo…..

Triple offender! Headband, barefoot, and in Ergo. Complete with condemning Ayis.

I usually nod, smile and thank them for their concern. Except perhaps when their concern is about Dumpling's red eyelids.

Oh, I know you have noticed but didn't want to be rude and ask, right?

Just like up to 30% of newborns, Dumpling was born with red patches on her eyelids (aka salmon patch), forehead (aka angel kiss), and nape of the neck (aka stork bite). These are caused by stretched blood vessels below the thin layer of skin. The marks typically fade by one to two years old.

I understand that many people do not know about salmon patches, so the direct and tactless question, “What’s with her red eyes?” (“她的眼睛怎么了?”) doesn't offend me. I typically keep the response short: “It’s nothing. The doctor says it will go away as she grows.” (“没怎么了。医生说她长大没有了。”) If I feel like making conversation, I might explain the scientific reason for her salmon patches. Usually satisfied, the inquirer can move on to other subjects like whether I make a enough milk for Dumpling. (Yes, that is another common question, “Do you breastfeed and do you have enough milk?” The answer is yes and yes.)

But sometimes people skip the question altogether and go straight to the diagnosis and cure.

After delivering a big jug of water, the delivery guy looked Dumpling over as she kicked around in her crib. He quickly surmised that she was too dry and I should give her a bottle of warm water. Surely, she needed to be hydrated. Uh no. She breastfeeds and she doesn’t need to drink water. He was adamant. Everyone in his hometown gives their babies warm water to combat dry skin. Beijing is very dry. Alright, thank you for the concern. You can go now. In case you are as clueless as the water guy, I'll tell you that breastmilk is sufficiently hydrating while providing important nutrition. No warm water necessary for a breastfed small infant.

A couple weeks ago, a self-confessed health junkie told me that I should put sesame oil on her eyelids. I said, "Come again? Did I understand you right? Sesame oil?" She said yes. Dumpling suffers from too much fire (上火了). Mmhh. So maybe sesame oil is a cooling substance? As I was picturing putting sesame oil on Dumpling’s eyelids and how she would smell like an Asian salad, the self-confessed health junkie clarified that it wasn’t Dumpling’s fault--it was mine. Apparently while pregnant, I had too much fire (火力). If that’s true, I should have drank more ice water while pregnant.

Fortunately, Dumpling is blissfully unaware of her rose-tinted eyelids. After all, her eyelids are not the reason she garners so much attention. Her inquisitive eyes and generous smiles tickle pink friends and strangers alike. Soon, next week in fact, she'll be in the land of her citizenship making more friends. She can't wait!

In addition to showing off my little bundle of joy to all our California crew, I will find out if Americans also offer unsolicited and scientifically unsound advice. You know, just for comparison's sake.

Sometimes unsolicited advice is sound... So just in case California's heat wave makes Dumpling’s fire more fiery, perhaps I should pack the sesame oil.

Chinese word of the blog: 上火 (shànghǔo)
English definition: to suffer from excessive body heat

This should put the fire out
Dumpling makes friends easy!