Figuring out a routine


Again, because we went to bed so early, we got up pretty early as well.  I’m sure Hubby and I could sleep longer and get adjusted quicker, but C1 is the one waking up and getting us up at all hours of the night.  3am, 4am, he’s up and ready to go.  We have been able to get him to at least be quiet and in bed until 6am until it’s a more reasonable time to get up and going for the day.  Particularly since nothing is open for breakfast.  Today has been a hard day for me.  I’m still not caught up on my sleep, everything around me is foreign, the smells are bad, everything feels at least a slight bit dirty.  I simply just want to go home.  I bawled again.  I feel like I’m trying, but I also understand that it’s only been 2 days, but I want to go home, bad.

We knew Hubby came here to get some work done, and that he would be spending a few hours a day at the University office.  We decided to join Hubby in the office today to see what it looked like and the surrounding area.  I like the office.  It feels, American.  It feels comfortable.  I think I’d like to bring C1’s toys to the office, let him play while I blog, and spend the morning with Hubby there, and then go out and tour and shop when he is done with work.  Also, I’m quite afraid to go anywhere or do much of anything without Hubby around.  I’m so lost, and I don’t speak a lick of Chinese, and I don’t want to get C1 and myself lost.


*The view from some of the offices at University of Chicago at Beijing.  If it wasn’t so smoggy you would be able to see the Great Wall.

By early afternoon we’re done and ready to go.  We grab some lunch at the Subway a few doors down, and head back to the apartment to let C1 nap to see if we can’t get him to sleep in the right time zone.  Of course we all fell asleep, and didn’t get up until 6pm!  We went wondering out for some dinner and barely found anything open.


*Random dinosaur feature in the “kitchen” area.

Once we returned home there is a note on our door from management.  Apparently they thought we were to check out that day and wondered why we hadn’t left yet.  Well, the double booked our room, and make us move to another room.  At first we were on the 3rd floor, and now we’re on the 11th floor.  Quite frankly it feels less dirty and has a better view.  We moved everything that night and were in bed by midnight; only to have C1 wake us up at 4am.  Again we convinced him to stay in bed or our bed until at least 6am.

A good routine I think, and hope it works out well.  Spend the morning at the office with Hubby, then have some lunch and go play in the afternoon, or vice-versa.


*This is a model of Hyde Park, Chicago.  My house is in the upper left corner, I wish I could just transport there.  You may notice the MSI on the right near the TV and the grey strip toward the bottom is the Midway.

Lunar New Year Festival


Here in Beijing, the big travel holiday isn’t Christmas like it is in America; it’s the Lunar New Year.  Many people leave the city for a while for the holiday.  Since we were up at like 5am, we did all we could to entertain ourselves in our apartment, but you can only do that for so long.  About 7am we ventured out to find breakfast.  With a lot of people out of the city, just about nothing was open.  We also still needed to go get a few supplies from the Walmart that was near our place.  We walked toward the Walmart to see if we could find anything to eat.  To our surprise the Walmart was open.  We did our shopping, not really finding everything we hoped, and the Chinese brands are so much different.  We had our breakfast, I cleaned the apartment to make myself feel good about it being clean and un-packed a bit to settle in.

It wasn’t even noon yet, when we decided we needed to get out and do something touristy, as well as take advantage of the Lunar New Year celebrations happening while they were still happening.  On our way out we stopped at the McDonalds for a light lunch.  One woman came around the counter to say hello to C1.  She also called out all the other employees to see the cute blond boy.  We’ve got 3-5 employees surrounding C1 adoring him.  As we then proceed to eat our lunch the first woman brings a small ice cream out for C1, for free.

We took the train to this festival/carnival and when we arrived, the train station was PACKED!  We had to push our way off the train, through crowds of people up to the street to find the festival.  While there was a flow of people going the same direction as we were, we feared the festival was all done for the day because of the amount of people leaving the festival.


I thought Chicago traffic was bad during events, but this was insane!  People over ruled the road and cars could barely move.  Poor C1 was in and out of the stroller because with so many people we could hardly push a stroller through.  He was really good  about holding onto our hands.  Hubby and I took turns holding him.  And when we could we put him in the umbrella stroller and pushed our way through.


To get into the festival it was only $1.40; that’s American Dollars.  Super cheep.  But once we got in, we noticed that the carnival games (such as ring toss, pretty typical type games) were more unreasonably higher priced.  We stopped to watch a performance on a stage, but we couldn’t really see and I couldn’t understand what they were saying anyway.  Standing there watching, just like everywhere we go, everyone looked at us, specifically C1.  One young couple even stopped and gave C1 a small stuffed dog.  I’m trying to teach C1 the two words I know in Chinese; thank you and hello.  At one point before we continued walking, I even caught a man pretending to take either a video or panoramic picture and plainly stopped to take a picture of me holding C1; I just smile and let them.


We wondered around the festival and my favorite part is always the trinkets for sale.  We stopped and got C1 a fun tri, noise making, pinwheel.  As we wondered I saw nice fake flowers and thought it would be nice to get some for the apartment.  As we wondered trying to find any flowers we found Hubby’s favorite part of a festival, food.  Being pregnant, my Dr. recommended that I don’t eat the street food because we don’t know how well cooked it is.  Hubby got some food to share with C1; I’m sort of glad, because I’m not very adventurous when it comes to strange food.  The crowds were pretty heavy, but we made our way through and found some flowers.  Not all the ones I liked that I saw others holding, but some.  We stopped and I had Hubby go up to the booth to buy me some.  C1 was in the stroller as we stood back waiting.  By the time Hubby came back with the flowers I asked him to get, C1 was crying because his feet were cold.  If people weren’t staring at him before they sure were now.

As quick as we could we found a little quiet spot away from the crowd so I could put his gloves on his feet and then give him my gloves.  In the proccess, a family with a little boy come over to say something to C1, who is bawling because he’s cold and tired.  Suddenly, I look up from helping my poor child, and there is an entire crowd around us watching the crying blond boy.  The little boy and his family is trying to get a picture of the two kids together, and the crowd is only scaring C1 more and making him cry even more.  Finally I get his gloves on his feet and his shoes back on, and I pick him up to hold him and take him away from the crowd to try to comfort him.

I still wanted to look at all the trinkets for sale and find more flowers, but C1 wasn’t calming down, and wanted to go back to the apartment.  We made our way back to the train station, poor C1 crying the whole way, people staring giving suggestions on how to help, wondering why he is crying.  At the exit of the festival a man was trying to sell us a twisty drum, and kept putting the toy in C1’s hand, to get us to buy it for him.  C1 was in the stroller at this point, and the salesman was so pushy about it, I just about walked away with the toy in C1’s hand because he wouldn’t take no for an answer.  Because of the crowds, it took us about 45 minutes to get back onto the train.  Once we got to the train and he was able to sit on my lap, C1 was able to calm down.

A family, or multiple families, it was hard to tell, was sitting next to us, and the boy was trying to talk to C1 a bit.  I tried to get C1 to say hello in Chinese to the boy, but like me, when he’s sad, he doesn’t talk very loud.  Hubby heard the kids talking to the adults asking them why this boy wasn’t talking to them.  (Because remember, my Hubby is amazing and speaks several languages).  One of the men with the kids pulled out his camera, so C1 and I leaned in and smiled to let them take pictures.  Then the woman pulled out her phone to also take some pictures.


Once we were off the train, I was holding C1, and he was holding his new toys; his stuffed dog that the young lady gave him, and a ball on a string toy.  We went with the crowd (lighter than at the festival), and headed toward the escalator toward the exit.  C1 starting yelling, and I could feel that he had let go of his ball toy.  I yelled at Hubby who is about to step onto the escalator, and we push out of the crowd back out to look for his ball.  The exiting train crowd clears a bit, and I have a chance to look, but I didn’t see it anywhere.  Ready to give up and let C1 learn his lesson of hanging on tight to his toys, I saw it at the base of the escalator.  I ran to grab it and hop on, not even sure where Hubby is.  Thankfully he was a few people behind me and followed.  Again, a sad and crying boy because he almost lost his new toy.

I too was quite tired and frustrated with how things are going.  We got back to the apartment about 3pm and let C1 take a bit of a nap.  Since we didn’t nap we had some noodles in a cup for dinner and all went to bed by 7pm.

Day 0


C1 enjoys flying on airplanes.  Typically when we travel we are only on a 3-4 hour flight, and the only time he cries on these flights is when we are landing.  As I try to gather our things to get off, he’s crying that he wants to go again.  Sometimes we have a connecting flight, so I try to comfort him, that yes, we will go again, we just have to get on another airplane.


When we were preparing to go to China the flight was the least of my worries.  I knew that C1 could handle it or even enjoy it.  As I always do, I over packed snacks and toys and entertainment for him.  Especially since on international flights they provide meals and a TV for each seat.  Also, I knew I would be getting up every hour to stretch my legs.

Being 4.5 months pregnant and entertaining a 3 year old went well on our 13 hour flight.  C1 won’t nap on a flight until he has seen all the excitement of the take off.  Between us, he is the one who gets the window seat.  Once we were up and going C1 and I cuddled up and took a good 2 hour nap.  Daddy stayed up and watched his movie, good thing he didn’t fall asleep either, or we would have all missed the first meal.  After that none of us napped for the rest of the flight.  C1 had fun walking around with  me doing stretches, dancing and exercising.

13 hours later, our flight was done, we were through customs in China and had found ourselves a taxi to take us to our apartment.  First I knew China had relaxed rules on kids and car seats, and we actually decided to forgo bringing ours; the only time we planned on being in a car from the apartment to the airport.  Second, when I got into the taxi, I couldn’t find the seat belt for the middle seat, or the buckle for mine.  Not that it wasn’t there, but all the seats were covered in a cloth and covered the belt buckles.  To add on top of all this, the 15-20 min taxi ride turned into at least an hour ride because our apartment is hard to find.  About 30 minutes into our taxi ride and completely worn out C1 is sad, ready to go home, and wants his milk (which was put in the trunk), he turns to me and says, “Mommy, I’m ready to ride the airplane”.  MORE?!?  I think to myself.  “You just rode the plane for 13 hours and you want more?”

After 3 phone calls from the taxi driver to the apartment building, we found where we needed to be and it’s only 6pm China time.  We lugged our 3 suitcases, and 3 carry on bags up the elevator to the 3rd floor and walk into our new home for the next month.  C1 is excited to be “home”, but I on the other hand start sobbing.  It’s the size of a standard dining room, with a bathroom attached.  It includes 2 beds, a “kitchen” and a bay window.  The shower is as big as I am round and I feel like the whole place has a thin layer of yuck.


By 7pm we dig out our pajamas and are asleep.  Only to wake about midnight ready for a new day.  All 3 of us were able go back to sleep until 3am, at which point we got up, fiddled around for a bit, and finally convinced C1 to go back to bed until about 6am.  Of course nothing is open for breakfast and we haven’t had time to run to the store to get the bottled water or snack food we planned on getting.

Day 0: travel day, done.

C1 turns 3!


I am so excited to see C1 growing up.  I don’t particularly miss the infant phase of his life, but I think later, I will miss these toddler years.  I think this is my favorite time of life ages 2-4.  I can’t say for sure, because I’m truly enjoying every stage of C1’s life.

I think it was about his first birthday Hubby and I decided to do every other year a friend party and the other years a family party.  Partly because we wanted to save money on so many parties.  I enjoy hosting a good party and like to go all out, so I will be saving money by not doing it every year.

For his First Birthday we invited Mommy and Daddy friends over for some cake, so that was the “family party”.  For his Second Birthday we had a joint party with a friend who is only hours younger than C1; a big vehicles “friend party”.  For his Third Birthday most of his friends had moved away the previous summer, so it made it a little easier to want a family party.  It’s easy for me to change our ‘rule’ and have a friend party every year, I love hosting parties.

In the morning I surprised him with his floor covered in balloons.  He and I have a love for balloons.  He is almost always the first one awake and comes to wake us up.  That morning before I hear his foot steps to our room I hear,  “Mommy, I found balloons!”  He was so excited.  Once he was awake we filled the rest of the balloons with the helium to float around the house.


I had found on Groupon discount tickets for the Winter Wonderfest here in Chicago.  Apparently they have this festival every year here, but this was the first I had ever heard of it.  It’s a wonderful indoor festival with rides and bounce houses and ice skating.  I bought tickets for all 3 of us and away we went on his birthday.


All day C1 was in charge of what we did next.  Sadly in my pregnant condition I didn’t get to ice skate with them, but C1 did very well for his first time.  On his and Daddy’s second time around C1 started pulling Daddy toward the center of the rink instead of holding onto the side.  They did a few bounce houses together.  We decorated a sugar cookie.  We rode the teacups.  We even rode the little train twice.


Once we rode everything C1 wanted at the Winter Wonderfest, we then headed to the Chicago Children’s Museum to validate our parking.  Of course, we can’t go near the Children’s Museum without going in to play for a bit, and we played at a few of the exhibits before heading home.  It was nice to finally have Daddy there to play with.


Days earlier C1 and I started making a complicated cake.  C1 loves helping me in the kitchen, and at one point when I asked him  what he wanted for his birthday and he said, “cake”.  I showed him several images of cakes online and he picked out the one he wanted.  He settled on a construction cake.  After playing all morning, we went home to finish decorating his cake.


I couldn’t leave well enough alone, and didn’t want a ton of cake just for 3 people, so I invited friends over to eat cake.  No party, just cake and ice cream.  I did get everyone a little construction hat to wear as a thank you for coming to eat our cake.  We had 4 friends come over and it was perfect.  The cake was sloppy, but it turned out great.


Happy Birthday to my wonderful 3 year old boy.

Some things about you that I can remember:

*You still love to cuddle.  We cuddle to watch shows, to drink your milk (while you hold onto my ring of course), to read books, and to go to bed.

*You are fully caught up in your speech and even now ahead in speech thanks to 1.5 years of speech therapy.

*People still comment how you are the cutest kid.

*You love to help Mommy, except when it comes to cleaning up your toys.  You help me with my chores and cooking.  You get mad when I do your laundry, because you want to do it yourself.

*You are excited for baby brother to come so you can share your toys.  You hug my belly and say, “I just love baby”.

It’s a BOY!


Ah, 2014 is here. Typically, like most of you I make new year goals, but this year I was realistic and didn’t make any. I am however making more of a conscietious effort to be just a little bit better and just do things. I do think about this poor blog every now and again, but alas I still never write. Now I just Instagram and call that good. Toward the end of January I thought, maybe I should write at least once a month about things we did. This way I can have more of a written explanation of things to put with my scrapbook, which I also neglect.

Since we didn’t send out Christmas cards this past year end, I will catch you up on some important information.

*C1 refers to my first child (child 1). I won’t be using any family names here, so please don’t use them in the comments either.

*We are still living in Chicago, finishing up grad school.

*Hubby is/has applied for jobs this year and we hope to be moving this summer to a grand new job.

* As part of Hubby’s dissertation research we will be going to China this year as a family.

*I am (finally) pregnant with C2!!! It’s another BOY and he should be arriving mid to end of June.

Left is C2 at 19 weeks. Right is C1 at 19 weeks.

Hanami by Straightgrain


hanami button

Welcome Straightgrain readers.  Thank you for stopping by.  When An asked if I would test out the Hanami pattern, I had to say yes.  An creates some beautiful dresses and I am so blessed to test her patterns.  While I only have a little boy at home, my friends girls are luck to get a free dress from me for modeling it.

Hanami Dress Hanami Dress

Hanami Dress

I love the cross back and her sleeves are perfect.  This dress is comfortable to wear and great is so many way.  I love that An designs her patterns with options.

Pattern Tester + Giveaway


Sadly I have not done a lot of sewing lately.  My priority seems to be C1, which is good, but it leaves little room for me to be me.  The only sewing I’ve done lately is being a pattern tester for StraightGrain, a wonderful blog about sewing kids clothes.   She was recently on the hunt for people to test some patterns she has been working on, and I was lucky enough to try out both of her new dress patterns.  Her first pattern I tested was the Bubble Dress.  If you know me at all you know I love bubbles, and this dress is just as adorable.


The brown version has a collar on it, which is hard to see in this picture,  but the floral one is just so wonderful and shows off the bubble quite nicely.  I love this dress.


Next up she asked me to test her Tinny dress pattern.  This pattern is so versatile and has so many options.  There are 4 different collar options, 3 skirt options and 2 sleeve options.  She has a wonderful invisible zipper tutorial in her instructions and on my version, I added the pink belt for an extra touch.  This is only one of the many combinations you can create with this dress pattern.IMG_20130515_094555 StraightGrain patterns are very well written, very clear to understand and are simply put wonderful.  If I were you I would go to her shop right away and buy one of her patterns.  They are a great deal and a wonderful addition to your pattern collection.  And because I hope to be blogging again more regularly, looking for more readers and because Straight Grain is so wonderful, I will be giving away one Tinny Dress pattern. I will select a random winner on the 23rd, so all comments must be submitted by midnight of the 22nd.  I know it’s been months since I’ve posted anything, and so this is a way to wake up any readers who may still be out there.  Also, I just want to thank my dress models for allowing me to try these dress on them.