Watch Mom Try...

 

Hey, glad you found my page.

I hope you smile.  :D

20141128_145014_resized

McDonald’s Is Like The American Embassy: A Trip To China With Kids

By on February 6, 2015

China is an amazing place. The architecture, the people, and the language are all so different than in America. Finding what is different, and trying to understand why, is what makes travel so fundamentally interesting.

The first time I was in Shanghai years ago, I fell in love with it. From tiny one room restaurants where you could watch a guy make noodles five feet away from you, to the Yan’an elevated road lighting up the night sky with bright blue lights, Shanghai was amazing.

china collage 1China collage 2

I learned the art of bargaining, and I mastered the squatty potty.

squatty potty

However, when I followed the hubs there recently on a work trip and was on my own with the two kiddos 95% of the time, it was a different (and inherently stressful) experience.

The details:

  • We were in a small hotel room with only a few of the items that make a mom’s life smooth with two little ones.
  • The kids and I all got sick, meaning Kiddo 2 woke up at all hours for comfort, and Kiddo 1 needed constant attention.
  • I was trying to tutor my students in Singapore via Skype using my Ipad as a babysitter for Kiddo 1. I generally had to nurse Kiddo 2 through the sessions to keep him quiet.
  • China is not stroller friendly, so my back went out about halfway through the trip from carrying Kiddo 2 in a baby carrier all day.
  • Catching a cab was not always easy (and getting to your destination even harder when you can barely communicate), and Kiddo 1 had a hard time walking long distances. This made for many a tearful trip back to our hotel (her tears and my own).

The stress was intensified by the attention we received. As an ang moh with two little ones in tow, I guess I stood out. People naturally want to stare at that which they do not usually see, and there really weren’t any white people to see in China (or brown people or black people, for that matter). In America, I felt judgey eyes on me when Kiddo 1 was on my Iphone or throwing a tantrum. In China, I felt eyes all the time. Every walk down the street was filled with stares. Every subway ride lead to positive and negative attention. People wanted to know the age of the baby and wanted to comment on their blue eyes. Some just wanted to stare at us for the duration of our time on the train. A few elderly women chastised me; I have no clue why as I barely speak Mandarin. When we encountered other babies and toddlers, their parents pushed them to come up and pose for photos with us.  If I left the baby playing on the floor at a play area, he was whisked away by the staff (his photo is now on all of their cell phones).

kid attention collage 1

But some of the attention was weird. A dad at a play place kept taking selfies with Kiddo 1. People of all sorts would take a quick picture of us in passing (it is so much kinder to do that behind someone’s back, IMHO). Even at the touristy spots, we did not blend in. Here is a photo I took of the people taking photos of us.

20141123_110546_resized

One woman helped me find H&M when I was lost. (It is still the only place I can reliably and easily find clothes that fit the kiddos.) Then she stayed with us through the entire H&M shopping trip and bought Kiddo 1 ice cream afterwards. She was very nice, but it was all a bit too much.  After ice cream, she wanted to continue hanging out, but I said we had to go.

china kid attention 1

Several times a day, I heard the word “beautiful” (in English) being sort of lobbed at my daughter in passing. My children are obviously gorgeous (hahaha, JK), but this never happened in the states or in Singapore. People there just ignore you for the most part. In China, as stressed as I was, I just wanted to get through the day—every day. I didn’t want to try to communicate—I was EXHAUSTED.

But for the worst moments, there was a refuge.  A place far better than the American Embassy, which you would think is an American refuge on foreign soil.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden…” arches.

Thank you McDonald’s. Thank you for being a safe haven for a stressed out mommy. Thank you for having the same staple items in every country (and a bunch of fun local stylings as well). You are a beacon of happiness and comfort via food. A place where my children will be happy, and where my heart can breathe a sigh of relief. A place where (some) English is spoken, and where the menu is familiar enough that you can point to what you want and recognize it when you receive it. A place where the décor is familiar, and the level of cleanliness is fairly standard.

You are my home away from home. And you are everywhere.

Mcdonald's collage

And if you are getting all Judgey McJudgey-Pants on me and my love letter to McDonald’s—just hold up (we only went twice that month). You will one day totally understand me, if you don’t already. Wait until you visit a place that feels so foreign to you that you barely remember who you are anymore. Wait until you have children screaming at you in surround sound, and you can’t find a restaurant within a half-hour’s walk from you that has both:

  1. Food your child is willing to eat.
  2. A potty they can sit on (versus a hole to squat over).

Traveling with young kids is hard—at least for me. So thank you McDonald’s.

20141128_145014_resized

 

A few more interesting bits from our trip:

 

They soak eggs in tea. The outside of the egg white gets brown.

20141126_074736_resized_1

They have big plastic strips hanging down at the open entrance doors to malls to keep the warm air in but let people through. Downside: You get smacked in the face by plastic when you get distracted.

20141126_162352_resized_1

They have police cruisers that look like this.

20141130_133307_resized_1

They wear detachable sleeves (they sell these in Singapore too).

20141207_095145_resized_1

Hotel remotes are hard to read.

20141115_132559_resized

I have no idea what is happening to this guy’s ear.

20141118_150327_resized_1

 

Some sights from Shanghai.

Shanghai 2 collage Shanghai 1 collage

Some sights from Nanjing.

Nanjing 2 collage Nanjing 1 collage

 

homer drool

Omakase Burger

By on February 12, 2015

The Grandstand, #01-05, Singapore. It is said by some that Omakase Burger is the best burger in Singapore. Others have said it is the smallest. Hmmm. Not mutually exclusive; it can be both the best and smallest, unless you are

duck confit

Saveur

By on January 28, 2015

5 Purvis Street, #01-04, Singapore. It was a rainy weekday evening when we popped into Saveur. The simple décor and bright lighting beckoned on this wet night.  It’s creators aim to produce great French food at a good price.  The

masseuse

Thanks, My Uterus Feels Great Now.

By on November 27, 2014

Written March 2013.   I just peed in a bathroom overlooking the ocean.  It was everything I ever hoped it could be. And then I got a uterine massage. This is where you say–> And I reply, “Give me a second

flags

Traitor

By on November 12, 2014

(Written in July of 2014) I have betrayed my country. I spent the fourth of July this year hanging out with a gaggle of British ladies. And I loved it. It was very strange to be away from home for

grown up 2

Grown-Up?

By on October 20, 2014

I’m pretty sure I’m a grown-up now. It’s hard to know for sure. When I was a child, I knew that my parents were grown-ups. I knew that for sure. When I was a teen, my teachers were grown-ups. When

round

Help Mama Get Her Edge Back

By on September 25, 2014

I need help.  I feel like I no longer recognize myself.  I have become MOM.  The role truly transforms you.  All the body changes make you no longer recognize yourself, and the lifestyle changes make you no longer recognize your life.

fat man

Sigh…. Another Tall Girl Tries On Clothes In Asia

By on September 22, 2014

Asia has a ton of great fashion. Walk anywhere and and you will see boutique after boutique, brimming with adorable clothing of every kind, often just one of each piece in a store—truly a treasure trove for clothing shoppers. Unless

Mr. Belvedere

Maid in Singapore

By on September 19, 2014

Sooooooo the best thing in the world happened. I have my very own Mr. Belvidere. So now you say: And I say :   So check this out. Singapore is a very fancy pants city with a much higher average

bike

Good Morning Vietnam: Robbed And Hit By A Car

By on September 13, 2014

On our last day in Hanoi, I was buying fruit in a street market. It was a beautiful, quiet morning, and there were people selling all manner of fruit and vegetables on the street. It all smelled amazing, and it