Monday, May 11, 2009

Thanks everyone for being part of this blog. I had so much fun sharing with you all, I looked forward to adding to it and seeing your comments every day. When I took photos and asked questions it was often with you in mind, thinking, oh, they'll enjoy this - I know I am.

I'm back state-side, our return trip was easy and uneventful. Trev and Kari and Dylan met us at LAX and took us out to dinner to help fill in the 4 hour lay-over I had before the hop to Phoenix. They took us to In-and Out, a move inspired by their many trips out of the country and consequent understanding that there is nothing like an American hamburger anywhere but here in the good old USA.

It was right under the touch down pad for the jets too, and we sat outside so both Dylan and Guy could be entertained while we ate. Guy stayed the night in Santa Monica and drove over this morning, while I caught a flight and got back just before midnight.

Leeannette and Haven greeted me this morning with joyous hugs and kisses and Jerome and Olivia left roses in our room. Amazing homecoming. Olivia was busy while I was gone cleaning our carpet and making our "nest" as Guy and I call it, beautiful. When Leeannette saw the room this morning with my suitcases flung open and dirty clothes on the floor she creased her little eyebrows and addressed me with a stern look.

"Mommy cleaned your room once. She's not going to do it again, you know." Haha.

We were sad to leave Sky and Yue Li and little Star Star, but two things console us. One, we know now they are not so far away and the trip is easy and pleasant so we will be back. And two, there's no doubt in our minds that little Star Star will be fine for awhile without us. :) Sky and Yue Li are excellent parents, and baby Star is surrounded by people who adore her. Her far away relatives here, and the ones who never put her down in China.

Check out these photos. None of the ones where she is being held are posed. It's just every time I turned around someone was cuddling her. They literally fight to hold her, and Yue Li often has to say no, because she's nursing or the baby is sleeping and she doesn't want her to wake up. Honestly, they line up to wait their turns. Now that's a loved baby.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Huong Xing Xing Star Star Gail Rose Shelton

Grandma and grandpa.
Auntie's and great-aunt.
Family at grandma and grandpa's.
Uncle holding Star Star.
Auntie (great-aunt) holding Star Star.
Papa G.
Nana. And this clip below. She loves music so much even at six weeks it's a guaranteed smile if you sing to her.

Performing arts theater at the Red Cave

This was a special treat Yue Li took me to Friday night. The theater I took photos of earlier in the blog runs a ballet performance that Yue Li was in prior to Star Star. It tells the story of three love affairs set in three different time periods of Chong Ching history.

The manager, a good friend of Yue Li's, got us front row tickets and here Yue Li takes me for a backstage tour and shows off the baby at the same time.

Hot Pot

Hot Pot, which originated in Chong Ching, is, um. A unique experience that I think you have to come over and experience yourself.
Briefly it's boiling oil filled with peppers and spices in which you dip and cook various foods. The bowl on the inside is boiling oil without the spices. And for children and people like me, you get a bowl of water in which you can bath your food of the hot spices before you eat it.
Here is Guy trying to understand it all. He gets very serious when trying to understand food.

Summing it up, it's a whole cultural experience that takes place in echo-y restaurants filled with large groups of people having a really good time which makes the sound deafening and really fun because people are laughing and fighting over food that they put in the pot and lost to someone else and Yue Li informs us when we're done that she always has to wash her clothes when she gets home due to the grease smell. Haha. Kind of like going to McDonalds only a lot more fun.

Meet May May

This is May May, Cuddle's Chinese cousin. I promised her a spot on the blog when I heard that she takes the bus by herself. When she spends time with Yue Li's dad, he often lets her trail along (that is, without a leash) when he visits friends and shops to which he takes the bus. One day May May went missing, and since she was in the habit of escaping to the bus stop Mr. Huang started his search there. After checking two of his customary stops, he found her. Apparently she'd been hanging out with some of his cronies, coming and going on the bus at will.

She does the same with the elevator in the kid's building. Each floor has an open trash can for the tenants to put their trash that May May is especially fond of raiding. Yesterday Yue Li reported that she had gotten off and on the elevator at the 15th, 22nd, and the 32nd floor. How did Yue Li know? She went downstairs to the office and watched the security cameras.
Best friends. When baby Star cries May May paces the floor with me as I console the baby and barks at me. "Do something!" is her clear message.

She does frog dog like all Bichons.
Checking out the second delivery of eggs from Yue Li's auntie. 200 this time.
The black poodle belongs to Mr. Huong. All the dogs love him.
And of course there is Gwi Gwi, who, although he does not take the bus by himself is interesting for his own reasons. I can't think of any right now but I will tell you he has his own bedroom under the couch.
It's a tight squeeze which requires him to slither in on his belly.
And he has to really push hard with his hind legs to get the rest of him in.

But once he's there no one can bother him - not even May May who is too big to fit.

Sign language and toilet paper.

When I first arrived in China Skyler told me (very casually, I thought) I should learn the finger positions for numbers and to always carry toilet paper.

I learned my lesson about carrying t.p. in the worst way (and I thought Mexico was bad), and soon thereafter realized my mistake in not learning how to convey numbers. (No, I wanted 10 eggs, not 10 kilos of eggs.)

This clip shows Sky demonstrating the finger positions for numbers.

Tao Bao

Ok so Skyler and Yue Li get a majority of their things on Tao Bao, the Chinese equivalent of e-bay but a lot bigger. Sky explained that when China opened up and became more capitalistic the Internet was blossoming at the same time. Thus their shopping here is done by the younger generation in equal proportion between real hands on shopping and via the net.

Anyway, Sky shops online for stuff he can't get here, like a few months ago he almost purchased a humongous chunk of cheese. They usually correspond with each shopkeeper about the product quite a bit before they purchase it, but in this case they were not online so he just had the info posted to go by. He was about to get it (apparently the price was incredibly low) when Yue Li pointed out that the expiration date was 6 months prior.

This clip shows him looking for one of the things he misses here, ranch dressing.