Come January, we usually get out of Beijing. No thanks dreary winter. Catch you later icy winds that cut like a knife. Gotta fly smog. Every winter, at least for the last three years, we beeline a plane to sunny California.
But not this year because...we had a baby! And brand spankin’ new babies don’t travel well. Fortunately, brand spankin’ new babies have an inexplicable power over grandparents. Suddenly, a fourteen hour flight across the Pacific Ocean doesn’t seem so horrible. Worrying about lung disease from breathing in Beijing’s notorious smog falls to the wayside. Morbid fear of squatty potties in poorly ventilated bathrooms turn into a minor nuisance.
Ahhh, the alluring power of a completely dependent, milk fragrant, fresh faced newborn.
So this year, California came to us.
My mom (aka Yaya) arrived the evening of January 20, one day after Dumpling's due date. The bulk of her luggage were goodies for the three of us: pink and white girly girl clothes for our sweet Dumpling, about three pounds of See's chocolates to sate sweet Dumpling's parent's sweet tooth, as well as tortillas, Paul Mitchell mousse, Keen sneakers, and Better Than Bouillon.
As soon as she could turned out to be a month and half later. Getting a China visa isn't simple like going to the nearest Safeway for a gallon of milk. Obtaining a visa is a process involving hiring an agency or making a couple trips to the China Consulate in San Francisco. Furthermore, tickets using her flight points weren't readily available. So Yaya arrived just as everyone was leaving for the Chinese New Year Festival.
Goody for us. Beijing's cacophony settles to a hum during this time of year. Eerily empty subways. Short waits for a table at our favorite Korean BBQ joint. Stress free crossing the street. Yaya didn't get an opportunity to get suffocated in a sea of people, thus missing out on an authentic China experience.
But she didn't come all the way to Beijing to for an authentic China experience. She came because the grandma in her couldn't stay away. She came to see her brand new spankin’ new grand-Dumpling. She came to cuddle her and spoil her with attention and love.
And Dumpling was in Yaya heaven. She spent the week cradled in Yaya’s arms and snug against a warm body. BirdMAN and I got some Yaya love too: use of the hotel swimming pool, gym, room service, and hotel buffet breakfast (unlimited watermelon in the winter!). On the smoggy days, we hunkered down in our house or Yaya's plush hotel, taking turns holding Dumpling and watching her sleep. On nice days, we took Yaya to some of our favorite places to eat: Yunnan food, Mr. Shi’s Dumplings, Wagas for California fresh cuisine, Starbucks, and of course, a Beijing brew at Great Leap Brewing.
The week was over in a flash. Thankful my mom made the long trip for only a week's visit, I tearfully said goodbye. I liked seeing my mom with her one and only granddaughter. It was really sweet. I never imagined that having a baby around could make you so sentimental!
So Yaya packed her bags and California was gone.
But California will be back! We're looking forward to the next set of visitors heeding the alluring power of a completely dependent, milk fragrant, fresh faced
Chinese word of the blog: 姥姥 lǎolao
English translation: maternal grandmother