27 September 2017

Baby Update: Boy or Girl?

{Taken at the end of 16 weeks, we're now coming towards the end of 17 weeks}

Weight Gain: About 3 lbs now! Baby's sure growing!

Symptoms: Less frequent vomiting than in the first trimester, now it's more like twice a week rather than twice (or more) a day. We had to see the doctor after 5 days of crazy pain that wouldn't go away (over a holiday weekend when the doctor's office was closed, of course), but that was a reassuring visit because the thing that's causing the pain is not dangerous, just painful, and I can manage the pain with tylenol (made it to 17 weeks without taking any pain meds, but nothing like rest or stretching takes care of this pain).

Preparations: Someone lent me a few pieces of maternity clothes, but I'm still wearing my normal wardrobe because maternity clothing seems rather huge at the moment. I tried on some maternity pants and they're not even close to being able to stay up but it should be a totally different story a few months from now. We attempted to walk into a maternity clothing store some weeks ago but Angel didn't want to go in and I didn't want to go in alone so we just peeked in the doorway awkwardly and all the clothes looked boring anyways. So I haven't bought anything new to wear since May. Good for the budget, right?

We're now more "prepared" for baby than we were in my last update. Thanks to one family who has older kids gave us their high chair and stroller and baby swing--how awesome is that?

An elderly auntie from church found out that I was pregnant this week and called Angel to come to her house to pick up some food she had for me: a package of 30 kampung eggs ("village" eggs, basically eggs that aren't from a factory farm) and a 5 lb. package of Milo (a chocolate drink mix). That was so sweet! I'm slightly mystified as to how two people are supposed to consume 30 eggs.

Angel's been reading Shepherding a Child's Heart in the evenings, sometimes out loud to me while I sleep.

Eating: The food that sounds the best to me is still consistently apples, oranges, raw carrots, raw cucumbers, and popcorn. I actually haven't had potato chips in quite some time. I've been able to eat a bit of chicken once in a while but meat or most actual "meal" type of food still doesn't seem appealing. After I finished 14 weeks I have let myself have caffeine once in a while. Sometimes I just want a glass of lemon iced tea or a glass of Coke. Not every day, but a couple times a week. I don't drink coffee at all and never have so at least I don't feel any loss in that area!

Realizations: I realized that I somehow always believed during childhood that having a baby meant being huge and pregnant for 9 months and then getting a baby at the end of it. I'm learning that this point of view is not really based on reality, and because this was somehow in my mind, by comparison, having a huge belly for only a few months doesn't sound bad at all. I know a lot of people start saying they feel fat or uncomfortable by this point but I feel like I just feel normal--other than the vomiting, excessive sleeping, and pain. It's funny what can feel "normal," I guess.

Gender Reveal:

It's a boy! So now maybe we'll be able to wrap our minds around baby prep a little better now that we know to picture t-shirts and shorts rather than floral dresses.

We had a really low-key gender reveal. Angel and I found out at the doctor's office, and knew if we tried to keep the secret for any length of time at all, we'd give it away. So on the way home, we stopped by where my family was and chatted with the sisters while I casually stole a bunch of blue Crayola sidewalk chalk. Took home the chalk. broke it up with a butter knife, stuck it in the blender, and then called the family to say, "Head out to the parking lot!" On the way out, Angel said, "I think the blue powder will really show up on the ground." while everyone else was also outside so I was right as far as knowing that a secret would never last for more than a couple hours with us. We barely made it to the parking lot!

My family all said "I knew it!" because for some reason they've known from the beginning. I had three dreams that the baby was a boy before we found out, so the ultrasound just felt like a final confirmation. Angel suddenly feels a whole lot more responsible. I guess he was figuring if the baby was a girl I could handle all the girly stuff like braided hair and dolls pretty easily. Now he's thinking about how soon he'll need to start teaching him how to replace alternators and struts and radiators. I'm not sure at what stage of baby development car repair skills are supposed to be introduced.

And, if you watched the video, yes, baby has a name. I'll tell you if you ask, I'm just not planning on posting the full name on the internet. :)
20 September 2017

Married Life: Texting

This may be a bit unusual for couples in 2017, but Angel and I have never really developed a texting habit.

{Photos I never showed you from our anniversary photoshoot earlier this year}

When we became friends in college and later, for all the years that we lived in America after we got married, we didn't have phones with texting service. Adding texting service cost extra so why bother adding that extra fee? Plus, in pre-marriage days, I'll admit that I especially loved it that not having texting on my phone forced Angel to be a man and call me rather than flaking out and texting (you won't believe I was born in the 90s, will you? It must have been the 50s).

When we lived in China, we shared  one cell phone, so whenever we were apart, we had no way to contact each other and simply assumed that the other would arrive home safely from work or errands. We worked at the same school so we weren't apart all that often.

NOW. For the last two years, we have each had our own phone, and these phones can text. Each text costs something like a few cents, though, so there's no call to overdo it on the texting. So...we've adding texting into our lives as if we also live in the 21st century. But I've noticed that our texts seem to follow a very regular theme. Here are our real-life texts from the last month or two:

Rachel: Wanna bring me home ramen? The same kind I had before.

Angel: Ok


Rachel: Don't forget to pick me up on the way. :)

Angel: Ok


Rachel: I have a stack of books to send to the printer  so you can carry them when you pick me up.

Angel: Ok


Rachel: You must pick up the family at the airport in the big car at 4:45

Angel: Ok


Rachel: "How about bringing home food for us? Is ramen open for lunch?

Angel: Ok


Rachel: Don't forget your tesco shopping if you guys stop at McDs. Need lunch ingredients for tomorrow.

Angel: Ok


Rachel: We are at the Korean restaurant. Haven't ordered food yet. If your lesson is finished you can join us.

Angel: Yes


Rachel: You have a lesson at 3 pm today

Angel: Ok


Rachel: I cooked lunch for us.

Angel: Ok


Rachel: My phone is dying now but don't forget to pick all of us up at 4.

Angel: Ok


And...that's it. I think I also texted "I love you!" once and he texted "Take care of the baby!" once but pretty much it's just information about schedules, meals, and rides going one way with Oks coming the other way. There was that "Yes" one time which I think shows his excitement over the Korean restaurant. Works for me! No wasting of unnecessary cents on needless texts and Ok is easy to type, even on Angel's old-school Nokia!

What role does texting play in your marriage?
17 September 2017

When the Wildlife Goes Wild

I've mentioned before how we live in close proximity to the jungle and all the accompanying creatures. Monkeys hang out in the tree next to where we park our car, cicaks scurry across the living room walls in the evening (inspiring a book about their antics), and Angel continues to do battle with the fruit bat who lives in the hallway outside our apartment.

Lately, we've had a few interesting encounters with nature that I thought were worth telling you about.

Like when we were driving home a few weeks ago and saw this guy trying to get through the fence into the park that's next to our apartment complex.

Or, when Angel and the family went to visit a bigger park, one that has a swimming pool, and stumbled across two big monitors dueling next to the swimming pools.

Angel recorded the whole fight. Minutes 2-4 are the most dramatic, in my opinion, although the ending is pretty cool, too. I will warn you, the fight is a bit bloody. These big lizards mean business!


For an update on our bat situation: After someone hung up a cd and netting in front of the neighboring apartment to deter the bat from roosting there, the bat moved in in front of our place. Lovely! Angel immediately went on offense, hanging up a cd and making nightly excursions with a broom to startle the bat away. Then he got a ladder and applied VaporRub all over the pipes and the ceiling in front of our house (Why? Because apparently VaporRub is the cure for everything, even fruit bats...I guess). After the liberal VaporRub application, the bat has slightly varied his roosting places, including a spot about 5 feet away front our home's entrance. He doesn't come at the same time every night anymore, though. Angel hasn't been able to startle him lately, but this week  I came home one evening to find a bat flying around between  our place and our neighbor's and I had to rattle my keys viciously to get him to go away so that I could in without the risk of the bat coming a little too close for comfort. I'm not sure who will win this battle in the end. I should probably google the lifespan of fruit bats in Malaysia.


We went on a field trip to a butterfly garden last week, the sort of place where you expect to encounter quite a bit of nature, but I've never been to a butterfly garden where the butterflies were quite this friendly.

A few in our group had purposely worn brightly colored or floral shirts to encourage butterfly encounters, but these butterflies were landing on everyone! Nobody was safe! Little Joshua was rather disturbed by one butterfly who landed on his behind and refused to move for about ten minutes.

Can you see the butterfly on her hair bow?

This one landed on my leg and wouldn't leave me alone! I was beginning to understand how Joshua felt.

Even the cellphones weren't safe!

We loved the butterfly garden, but I always leave that place remembering how much I really, really, really don't like insects. Butterflies are pretty okay, but they have a whole lot of other bug exhibits there, including giant ants...that always leave me feeling very ready to leave by the time we are done.


And, last wildlife encounter of note: We were driving to dinner when we turned down a neighborhood road and ended up in Fort Worth during a cattle drive. Or something.

The moral to these tales is: always be prepared. Never know when you might need to judge a wrestling match between monitor lizards, VaporRub your ceiling in order to persuade a bat to find a new home, or dodge cows wandering the neighborhood.
13 September 2017

Things I Wouldn't Do as a Parent

I know, I know, everybody says you can't know what kind of things you'll do once you're a parent until it actually happens. But I feel like you can at least lay down a few general guidelines. These are the things I'm fairly positive I would not do.

- Cloth diaper. I actually might have done this if we lived in the states. I like saving money, and I cloth diapered babies back in the 90s when it was a totally different ball game. But. We live in an efficient apartment with a washing machine but no dryer and no outside area for hanging laundry. We hang all our laundry to dry from bars attached to the ceiling of the tiny hall next to our kitchen. Oh, and the humidity is about 85% at all times so clothes don't dry well, so I unplug my washing machine whenever it's not running and plug in a fan and point it at the clothing so they will actually dry. No way would I purposely add cloth diapers to the laundry load.

- Have a little boy with long curly hair. Curly hair might be a given with our genes (wonder why Angel keeps his hair so short?), but this cosmetologist gets itchy fingers whenever she sees a messy neckline or hair sticking out around the ears, even on strangers. I love clean-cut, nicely trimmed hairstyles for boys. I've already given plenty of baby and toddler haircuts, so I know what I'm getting into. I also wouldn't let my kid color their hair till probably teens or so.

- Not vaccinate. If we lived in the USA, I would still vaccinate, but over here, I think it's even more crucial. Diseases that are unheard of in the USA are not unheard of here--even as an adult, I have more vaccinations in order to live here than I would if I lived in my birth country. They practice slow vaccination for babies here, only one jab at each appointment, which I think is an even better idea.

- Co-sleep in the same bed with baby. The bed is hardly big enough for Angel and I, if one were to add a baby to the mix, Angel would have to be kicked out to the couch, which isn't actually long enough to sleep on, so none of this sounds like a good idea. I'm not much of a social sleeper, anyways. Baby can sleep in baby's own bed in our room. Said bed does not currently exist but hopefully will someday.

- Buy obnoxious and loud electronic toys. Other people can buy them for my kids if they so desire, but if I am spending any money on a toy, it's going to be one that I actually think is cool. BTW, I think basically all classic wooden toys are cool, and dollhouses.

Publicly post photos of baby with no clothes on. Considering that I already told Angel he couldn't post the ultrasound photo because the baby isn't dressed...let's just say I always think clothing is a good idea.

- Raise the baby monolingual. That just wouldn't make any sense. I'm not going to be uptight about it because I don't like rigid structures like "Mommy's language" and "Daddy's language" or "Spanish Wednesdays." English will be primary, but baby should grow up with it being part of everyday life to interact in another language as well. There's plenty of random Spanish and Chinese phrases spoken in our home already and Angel plays music in both languages in the car and at home. We'll just have to step it up a notch, and I plan to incorporate Spanish into storytime books and entertainment (songs, videos) so that the little one at least grows up comfortable with hearing the second language. And then in our homeschool we'll just do Spanish curriculum alongside English curriculum. If baby is a more verbal type, I'll incorporate Chinese early, too, if not, we'll stick to the basic two.

What wouldn't you do?
03 September 2017

Travel Goals

I told Angel recently: "You're lucky, because right now is probably the first time in our marriage that I haven't been planning some sort of future vacation that you'll end up agreeing to."

You see, for the past seven years, I've planned all of our travels, from day-trips to week-long vacations. Our usual travel plans usually come about in this manner: I hear of some location that, for whatever reason, excites my interest. For example: Tung Ping Chau, an uninhabited island belonging to Hong Kong.

I then begin to research the potential destination, collecting all available information on how to get there and what to do once there. I determine if the destination is reasonably budget-friendly and find the most cost-effective transportation and accommodations. Along the way, I periodically tell Angel all about how awesome Tung Ping Chau is and how cool it would be to go there and how I've figured out how to make it affordable and in the end, he ends up agreeing that my adventure plan sounds awesome, and we go. One exception: Our "layover vacation" in Hawaii was all Angel's idea in the first place. But I did all of the planning and mapping out of bus routes and building of our itinerary.

However, I'm currently in a state of mind where even going to the grocery store or to the mall sounds a little too risky most of the time. I do know that pregnant people travel all the time but I'm in a current state of wondering "How??" because I'm sick enough inside my own comfortable home. This is just a temporary state, I know.

Just because I'm not planning any trips right now doesn't mean there's no places on my list, however. There's always a few dream vacations hanging out there that I figure I may get around to one of these years. Here they are:

1. China

Okay, that's broad, but I definitely long to go back to China. There's a few major locations, the trouble is that they are a bit spread out: ChengDu and Xi'An are on my list, as well as ShangHai Disneyland.  Angel really wants to go to the Shi Lin Stone Forest and the Three Gorges Dam (a dam? Why?). Also, I want some authentic SiChuan veggie dishes because I miss them so much, and Halal dumplings and noodles from a Muslim Chinese family-owned noodle shop (That seems really specific, but I'm not a huge fan of pork, so our local Halal Chinese noodle shop in ShenZhen was amazing because they used beef as their meat of choice). I think we'll find ourselves back in China to visit sometime within the next couple years...

2. France

This one, my main interest is the Paris Disneyland (these would be my last two Disney parks in the journey to visit all of them around the world), and the Loire Valley castles. I haven't done much research into what else because I think this is one destination that Angel can not be convinced into thinking is interesting. If I go, I think I'd make it a trip with my little sister Anna because we're good travel buddies. She shares my (usual) endless energy.

3. East Malaysia

Angel's never been, and I'd love to take him to see a bit of Sabah and Sarawak one day. Mount Kinabalu and the Mulu Caves would both be major adventures...but both also sound more physically grueling than I would normally be prepared for. Such adventures would require pre-trip training, for sure!

4. Western USA Road Trip

I love road trips, and national parks. Especially after spending a few days in California in May, I'd love to someday explore more of the natural world of California and the rest of the western USA. Maybe work our way across the country. I have no idea when a trip like this would happen, though, as it's not like we often find ourselves in the US with access to a car we can drive across the nation. I utterly detest the long plane flight to the US and that alone will keep me away for a good few years, I imagine.

5. Hawaii

We loved Oahu, and now I'd want to check out Maui and Kauaii. This probably isn't too likely to happen unless we stumble across another "layover" incident, just because Hawaii is so far from everything. But Hawaii is awesome, so, it has to go on the list. AND AirAsia, the budget airline we use most around here, recently started offering flights to Hawaii...

6. A Cruise

I actually don't know much about cruises or cruise destinations but I love boats and oceans so they intrigue me. There's definitely a big part of me that thinks I have too much energy to be cooped up on a boat for much of a trip, but I'm told there's lots of activities on these boats, so I continue to think that maybe we'll go on a cruise someday.

7. The UP

I'm a Michigander but have never really been to the UP, other than just crossing the bridge and visiting Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox (a random memory from my childhood). I'd love to see the state parks up there someday--but only during the height of summer! I have no interest in freezing!

A few other places that intrigue me but seem more doubtful that we'll actually make it there: Iceland, Mexico, England, Ireland, and New Zealand.

What places are on your list?