Friday, December 13, 2019

happy friday!

When I think back on the last two weeks, "happy" is not the first word that comes to mind. Mabel, Clarke, and I were sick with bad colds. And then Mabel and I got hit with a stomach bug. (New Parenthood Level unlocked: Cleaning up after and caring for your child who just vomited everywhere.) (Oh, and have I mentioned we only have a tiny washer and no dryer?) And then Tony got hit with the stomach bug. And Clarke and I still have a cold.

All of this on top of some self-esteem issues, some other issues (vague much?) and the general day-to-day difficulties of parenting a toddler and a baby and just being a human in this world.

But when I thought about writing this post, I thought, 'Surely there must be something happy from this week.' And of course there is:

+ I got to watch my little duck in her winter concert. She sang two songs, one of which was "5 Little Ducks" and although she wasn't her usual energetic, enthusiastic self (stage fright or was her body already preparing to ruin my duvet several hours later?), she was so cute.

+ Smiles from Clarke—always, but especially as he nurses.

+ Being introduced to a new fave Christmas song.

+ A living room dance party to "Jingle Bells" with Mabel and Auntie Jo. (I want to remember that Mabel cried when I played the Frank Sinatra version :)

+ Auntie Jo coming last minute to take care of Clarke when Mabel and I were both sick.

+ FaceTime date with Cara.

+ A student from last year giving me homemade fudge.

+ A pasta + wine + hot chocolate + Christmas movie date with Auntie Jo. (Post-stomach issues, obviously.)

+ Cuddling with T and watching Modern Family. 

And this list could grow longer, I'm sure. So let this be your reminder to look for the positives, and also your permission to wallow for a bit if needed. I sure have. Warm blankets and tea help.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

let it be christmas.

Let it be Christmas everywhere
In the hearts of all people
Both near and afar
Christmas everywhere
Feel the love of the season where ever you are
On the small country roads
Lined with green mistletoe
Big city streets where a thousand lights glow

Let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let every heart sing let every bell ring
The story of hope and joy and peace
And let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let anger and fear and hate disappear
Let there be love that lasts through the year
Let it be Christmas
Christmas everywhere

Let it be Christmas everywhere
With the gold and silver, the green and the red
Christmas everywhere
In the smiles of all children asleep in their beds
In the eyes of young babies their first fallen snow
Elderly's memories that never grow old...


A friend shared her Christmas playlist with me and this song was on it. As I walked to Starbucks this morning, I had tears in my eyes as I listened to it. I'm still listening to it on repeat as I write this.

The lyrics really speak to me. (Cheesy? Maybe, but true? Definitely.)

Christmas was hard for me growing up because as exciting and magic-filled as it was, there were also elements of anger and fear. I'm trying to change that for my kids. Year-round, not just at Christmastime.

Clarke slept through his first snow, but he doesn't know, so his second (or third or fourth) can be his first. And I'm sure he and Mabel will both be asleep in their beds with smiles.

And just yesterday I got a card from Fran, my Grampy George's wife. I cried because she thought of me and my family, and because it's the first year that my Grampy didn't write it and address it himself in his familiar calligraphy. I hope he has a happy Christmas even though it's his first in a nursing home.

Anyway, enough rambling from me. Let it be Christmas wherever you are.

P.S. My first Christmas abroad and the song that got me through.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


I took Mabel to see Elf this past weekend. The excitement started a few weeks ago when we bought her ticket. She pointed at every poster she saw—"Elf!"—and would tell anyone who was around that she was going to see it. 

Yes, I did buy her these elf PJs specially for the show.

She insisted Dìdì wear his elf outfit too, even though he wasn't going with us. I was surprised and impressed that she remembered he had one; she'd only seen it once weeks ago. (It's probably a good thing she insisted Clarke wear it because I don't think it will fit him by Christmas.)

She insisted on bringing a toilet paper roll. *shrug emoji*

She was pumped that she was dressed like Buddy the Elf. (But didn't love the attention that she got from everyone because of it.) Before we went into the theatre, she was smiling so big and seemed about to burst from the energy. She said, "Mama, I'm so scared!" 

"I think you mean you're so excited?" 

"Yes, Mama! Excited!"

I thought Mabel would want to sit on my lap, but at first she sat in her own seat. I actually liked that better because then I could more easily watch her reactions. When the show began, her eyes were so wide! She bopped along to the music, swinging back and forth, "snapping" her fingers. When the lights changed colours, her eyes grew so big and her mouth formed an O—"Wow!"

I wasn't sure if she would be able to sit through the whole show but she did a great job! It was about an hour long and when it was almost done she asked to go home but I assured her she would see Santa and "Elf" one more time. She loved the parts with them in it, but the parts with "regular" people she found a little boring. 

We said hi to Auntie Jo after the show. (She's one of the StageCats directors.)

After the show we went out to the lobby so Mabel could see Santa and Buddy. She didn't want a photo with Santa, but she said hi. She worked up her courage to get a photo with Buddy though! She was happy to show her that she was dressed like her :) 

And she brought a candy cane home—her first!

I'm so excited to be making memories with my little girl. Especially Christmas memories. I think this is one of my favourite parts of parenthood.

(And I just realized that I didn't get any photos of me with Mabel. *face palm emoji*)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

happy halloween!

Celebrating Halloween with a two-year-old is a lot of fun.

I collect holiday books and stash them away most of the year; we pulled out our Halloween books a week or so ago. Mabel asks to read a "Haddoween book!" every day, usually more than one. One of her favourites is If You're Spooky and You Know It, probably because she loves to sing and dance.

We don't have many Halloween decorations, but she loves the ones we do have and points to them, "Haddoween!"

Mabel was a hamburger (like last year) and Clarke was a hot dog.

We practiced saying "trick or treat" and "thank you" all last week, but when we went trick or treating in our apartment building on the weekend, Mabel was pretty shy and wouldn't say either at first. Half the time, she'd put her bucket in front of the person and then hide behind me. About halfway through, she started whispering, "Thank you." The only person she said "trick or treat" to was Auntie Jo. Mabel also gave her a spontaneous hug, which was so sweet.

Clarke only made it through two floors before Tony had to take him home.

I talked to Mabel before we went trick or treating about the fact that she might not be able to eat all of the candy because some might hurt her (I meant choking, but didn't say that). She understood because we've talked about it before. At the apartments that had multiple candy choices, Mabel would give me a look that seemed to say, "Mama, what can I have?" and I'd help her choose a safe treat. At the apartments that only had "unsafe" treats, sometimes we would skip it or she would take one and say, "Mama, Baba eat!"

As we walked through the hallways, several times Mabel held up her pumpkin and asked, "Go home, eat, right?" I'd confirm, "Right!" and she would give me a big smile. She also held the pumpkin up a few times and said, "Mabel, Mama, Baba eat. No Dìdì." (She wasn't being mean; we've drilled into her that he only eats Mama's milk, lest she try to give him food.)

When we got home, Mabel pulled all of the treats out of her bucket one by one, separating them into two piles, "Mama, Baba eat; Mabel eat." The ones she wasn't sure about, she'd ask me, "Mabel's?" She never got upset when I said she couldn't eat something. A couple of times, she pulled a treat out and said, "Wow!"

I let her eat as much as she wanted then (which ended up being a couple small chocolate bars and some popping candy) and she's eaten one candy a day since then when she gets home from school.

I already can't wait until next year. (And Christmas! I can't wait for Christmas!)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

i'm forgetting.

Clarke was 12 days old here and Mabel was freshly 2 years old.

I said I would blog and I haven't but I want to, I do, I promise, but I've been busy. Busy holding my baby and reading books with my toddler and cuddling her whenever she will let me. Also, it feels so overwhelming. I am overwhelmed by the task of How to Document My Children's Lives—these fleeting moments that are so hard and so special. I don't want to forget any of it, but I am.

I'm forgetting what it's like to have a newborn flailing in my arms, their arms and legs all jerky and spastic.

I'm forgetting what a newborn sounds like—SO LOUD! Much louder than you'd think. Farts and burps that sound like a grown man's. Heavy breathing that stops and starts and is so nerve-wracking for a first-time mom (and sometimes a second-time mom, too).

I'm forgetting what "nip-lash" feels like, when the baby is so full and content and goes from happily, sleepily, hungrily sucking to pulling away from the nipple while still having it firmly in their mouth. With a twist of their neck and a resounding smack! when the nipple is released—"nip lash."

There's more I'm forgetting, I know there is, but as I sit here, I, well, I forget what I'm forgetting.

I'll remember it though, when the baby does something, like babbles up to me and blows spit bubbles, I'll think, I remember this! Your sister did this! It will all come back to me and I'll feel sad that I forgot what that early baby talk sounds like and I will promise myself that I will remember, I won't forget this time. And I'll think, I should write this down, take a video, burn it into my memory so I won't forget.

But inevitably, I will.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

happy saturday!

Mabel goes back to school next week (half days until 1PM) and I'm having mixed feelings about it. (She started a Montessori nursery program at the school I teach at when she was 18 months.) On one hand I'm excited because I know she'll be happy to be back with her teachers and classmates, and it will let me get Clarke on a better morning routine. On the other hand, I'll miss hanging out with my little girl.

I've told Tony numerous times this week, She is just so fun to hang out with! 

That's probably what made me happiest this week—hanging out with Mabel. We went on an impromptu Starbucks date because she asked for a "mudfin" (muffin), played at an indoor playground, went on another coffee date where she stole my almond croissant (she also stole the words right out of my mouth when she told me, "Mabel's; I share with you" after taking said croissant), and a shopping date. 

Other things that made me happy this week: 

+ Auntie Jo (Melissa) came back! I don't know who's happier about that, me or Mabel. 

+ Mabel finding Toy Story pyjamas at GAP while we were shopping. She came running over holding them, "Toy Dory! Toy Dory!" I knew that no matter how much they cost, I'd buy them for her; luckily they were on sale. (She somehow became obsessed with Toy Story this summer and we've watched the first three movies many, many times—usually in parts, but she sat through all three numerous times one weekend when she was so sick and couldn't do anything else.)

+ Going out last night with Melissa. It was so fun and relaxing to drink beer and chat with my best friend on a patio.

+ IKEA trip this morning with Mabel and Melissa. So fun to shop with my girls.

+ Our sister-in-law sending us photos she took of the kids while she was visiting. It's so cool to see your kids through someone else's eyes.

What made you happy this week?

Friday, August 09, 2019

happy friday!

It's actually more like bittersweet Friday because T's sister-in-law and niece left today. They stayed almost three weeks and we'll miss them, but it will also be kind of nice to settle back into our (ever-changing) routine as a family of four. (Wow! That still feels surreal to say/type!)

It was so nice to have them here because Mabel loves Xiaoxuan (her namesake) and it meant two extra sets of hands to help. T's sister-in-law usually cooked one meal a day and she basically held Clarkie whenever it was daytime and I wasn't feeding him. (We told her not to, because, Babe, when your sister leaves, he is not going to be happy that he's not being held 24/7, but honestly, I'm not too worried because Clarkie is my second baby and I'm happy to report that I'm much more relaxed about stuff like this, and really, it's nice that someone was cuddling him because I still feel a little guilty that I haven't been able to cuddle him as often as I did Mabel because... we have Mabel *insert shrugging emoji here*.)

We tried to make it fun for them, too, at least as fun as it could be with a toddler and an infant in tow. We went to the aquarium (if I blogged about it, you would know that Mabel was scared of half of the exhibits, we spent a silly amount of money on a drink with a duck on it and a place for Mabel to play and me to sit and feed Clarkie, and I sprayed milk everywhere), took them out for burgers and Mexican food, I took Xiaoxuan for her first pedicure, and Tony took her to see The Lion King (I'm only a little jealous because we realized neither of us had seen a movie in theatre since before Mabel was born). We also just stayed inside a lot because Beijing is HOT in the summer, much too hot for a baby to be outside in the daytime and even sometimes the evening.

Some things that made me happy this week:

+ The messages I received after sharing this post.

+ T and I going out for a lunch date to celebrate Chinese Valentine's Day.

+ The margarita I drank on that lunch date.

+ The iced latte I brought home and drank while reading Recursion and holding a sleeping Clarkie.

+ T, Mabel, and I going out for ice cream, just the three of us.

+ Two new pairs of earrings (from this shop).

What made you happy this week?
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