Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ha, take that olive pants, grey tees, and tan trench coat. I'll counteract my love of neutrals by wearing... drumroll, please... more neutrals in the form of taupe flats, simple jeans, my trench coat and POW! a tomato red sweater. Whoopie, I'm bustin' outta the rut!

All joking aside, it's been a mentally challenging week. Kid was still breech at my last appointment a week and a half ago, and, despite lounging upside down, peppermint oiling my upper belly, good posture, wishful thinking and a few ugly cries, the littlest McClure's head is still easily felt anywhere between just to the right of my belly button and banging into my right ribcage. What's worse is that I've seen several of our kidless lady-friends in the last week and they're interested in how the little one is doing- and instead of saying "Hey, they're kicking and wiggling right now- feel!" because that would mean I'm putting their hand into my pants where the kicking is actually happening, I just say "Good. Growing." And nobody gets to enjoy the journey with me. And that's starting to feel really lonely.

So, little stubborn one, please take a spin southward. I will not schedule you a birthdate surgery. I will not invest any more mental energy into worrying. I will not be gutted like a fish for the sake of modern medicine's views on what's easier and convenient for scheduling and padding pockets (I mean, what's "safest" for baby). I want you here safe and I know that's ultimately what matters, however this goes down- but my family is built for baby-making and baby-birthing and I'm sure as shit not going to fold like a scaredy and schedule a c-section just because you got the stubborn gene, too. Just ask your dad- I can play a mean game of chicken. And I'm the mom- so you do what I say, because I said so.

That said- pleasepleasepleaseplease say a quick prayer and send out some really good energy for me and this booger. I'm not quittin' yet, but the 36 week mark is getting dangerously close and my chances kind of plummet after that.

Spring Neutrals

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring is just my favorite. I love the sidewalks start getting hot during the days, the rains that feel a little bit warmer, bright green new growth, watching perennials pop out of the ground almost overnight. My favorite thing about moving to a new place is discovering new plants and the way they grow and change in springtime. Seeing what blooms.

So why, for the love of Pete, do I always wind up wearing nothin' but neutrals?

Oh, yeah, that's right- I keep trying to pass off all the non-colors I wear as "classic." And I like it.


Monday, April 14, 2014

A quick hello and welcome back to baseball... Yeah, I know the season started a few short weeks ago, but we spent some good time over the weekend streaming Tigers Baseball Radio broadcasts. Watching games on TV- yeah, it's good fun, but the radio announcers for Detroit are so animated and fun to listen to.

So, hey, baseball. Thanks for making it feel a little like summer over here!

(PS- my hat is for the Toledo Mudhens- the feeder team for Detroit and my hometown. I'll have to wait a little while to wear any of my Tigers' shirts- they're all hilariously short right now.)


Friday, April 11, 2014

Okay, so yesterday, I mentioned we went to Beijing. If you follow me on Instagram (it's where all my online fun happens since the Great Firewall doesn't block it- pop over and say hi so I can see all your goodies, too!), you got to see some of the adventure as we went. Check out Rob's feed, too- request to follow, he's expecting you guys.

So, Monday was part of the Qingming (Tomb-sweeping) Festival. And since we have no ancestors over here, we thought we'd utilize the long weekend to get away and spend a little time exploring more of China sans-diapers before this little one arrives. I got to spend a few weeks in Beijing when my sister lived there a few summers ago, but Rob's time was restricted to a short day during the December Recruitment Tour. And, despite being 34 weeks pregnant, I was determined to pack in as much as we could. Oh. My. Gosh. So worth the angry feet at the end of each day. We hit most of the tourist highlights.

Baby McClure visits the Forbidden City and gets side-eyed or flat-out stared at by thousands of Chinese people.

Day 1- Saturday. Up early to catch the fast train from Suzhou to Beijing. 5 hours later, we arrive and hop on the subway to our hotel, which was 1/2 a block away from my sister's old apartment, so I knew the area well. We had Mexican for dinner (Beijing is more internationally established and momma's been craving pico and guac), milled around the neighborhood instead, did some Saturday night people watching, and headed to bed early.

Day 2- Sunday. Temple of Heaven, amazing people watching and enjoying Beijing park culture, along with eating a popsicle we bought for 2 rmb ($.32). Met up for Peking Duck lunch with a long-time family friend who helped out with my little brother's adoption 15 years ago and then went back to Holt International Adoption's Beijing offices to play with babies who are preparing for or recovering from surgeries before going back to their home provinces to await matching. A little cleft palate girl (still teeny tiny at 13 months) was nearly snuck out under my jacket. We headed off to an overpriced, but totally awesome Acrobatics show (tourist trap, but way fun anyway) and ended the evening with roadside cart tiny oranges, which we ate in bed back at the hotel.

Day 3- Monday. Long subway ride out to the Summer Palace and a comically strenuous hike up 108 meters of steps to the top of Longevity Hill. We also wandered along the Long Corridor (one of my favorites- the inside ceilings are painted with unique scenes of birds and flowers and legendary heroes) while I walked in front and Rob enjoyed the "holy $)*^, a really pregnant white girl!" stares I kept getting. We popped down to Panjiayuan Market for some antique/fake junk shopping (way more great stuff a few years ago) and walked away with only a thank you vase for our friend who was watching the cat. We were reeeeally hoping for a junky and awesome gong or huge singing bowl. No luck. Great Thai food for dinner, and a beer for Rob at Great Leap Brewery, right near our hotel (and great sadness for me, the beer lover).

Day 4- Tuesday. It was the evening of my dad's birthday over in the States, so my whole family hopped on Google Hangouts together (Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona, and Suzhou) to catch up and love on him a little. We checked out Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, eating popsicles every chance we got. "Hey, Kate, do you want a popsicle?" Fake exasperation- "Rob, you already know the answer to that dumb question... Yes." We popped over to the train station and got back into town not too late, but happy and exhausted.

I know Babymoons are supposed to be relaxing and all about reconnecting and spoiling yourself and your loved one before a kiddo arrives, and most couples go to a beach of some sort, but we've never been a couple that "does" convention. A 10-15 km each day walking tour of a seriously enormous city? Oh, for sure, count us in. It was so much fun and we're excited about our next big-China-city-visit, maybe sometime at the end of my mom's post-partum visit this summer.

White Jeans and Little Things

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Whew, glad I got such a heavy post off my chest earlier this week. On to lighter-hearted things.

One. I have, to date, killed three pairs of non-maternity pants so dead they had to be thrown away. Zippers may be fixable, but popped seams and ripped fabric? Nope. Not coming back from that.

Two. The cutest foggy morning slug inched along and crossed our path as Miles and I had our early morning walk. A tiny 1 inch trail of slime behind him; unbearably cute.

Three. My love of Peanut Butter (crunchy and overpriced, of course) with apples and carrots for lunch is still going strong.

Four. We went to Beijing last weekend. I'll tell you more later.

Five. I nearly fell off the sofa trying to paint my toenails. It may be time to start going to get pedicures instead of doing them myself. Bummer.

Like Mother Like Daughter

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I am my mom's clone.

I really can't get enough of wearing shirts from the dudes' section while my midsection is expanding. It's so comfortable and, let's face it, long enough and less hoochy than most stuff in the women's section. I feel like I can get the same popular "casual, slouchy chic" look by buying boys' clothes rather than a boutique oversized sweater for triple the price.

So, how's my momma fit into all this? She's my neutral-loving inspiration and boy clothes pioneer. She spent much our our childhood wearing khaki, white, grey, and navy. She's the queen of the Hard Rock Cafe tee. And I can't count the number of times she bought men's pants and sweaters. While I'll probably stick with ladies' jeans, I am happily walking in her footsteps with the whole neutrals thing. Ivory, white, grey, and black. It's my go-to lately. Plus a pair of lady-like animal print shoes. But, she'd never go for that, so at least I'm a little bit of my own person.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Oh, look what I found in drafts... from weeks ago. One of my final work outfits from a surprise sunny day amidst the springtime rains (so I, naturally, went against the Chinese norm of covering every bit of leg and skin and overdressing despite whatever the weather is and wore no tights). I loved how absurdly tiny this cardigan looks against my kiddo curves; it was fun to wear a kicky bit of print.

I really thought I would miss work a little once I stepped away. I've been motivated and diligent for years, investing more of myself and my time in working and earning our wages than I should have. I always felt so responsible to the success of my little family; making sure my income, as paltry as it always was in the midst of the economic downturn and as hard as I had to work to earn it, was enough to get us through not only bills, but provide enough extra to make sure Rob could take part in as many "extras" as possible while going through school. Conferences, festivals, paying musicians out of our own pockets to play his pieces. It costs a lot to succeed in music composition. But, we powered through, hopeful that one day, not too many years from graduation, he would find a really great job that made him happy and was substantial enough for us to start a family. I hoped, with fingers and toes crossed, that it would be someplace with an interesting arts scene. I hoped that it would be a position that would allow me to spend at least a little time away from work while we raised kids, that we wouldn't be perpetually broke anymore and I could enjoy fulfilling my dream of becoming a mommy a couple times over. Never did I assume I would get to detach from working completely, knowing that Rob is enjoying the challenge (and parts of it are definitely that) of working at a School of Music as a professor, knowing that our finances are modest, but comfortable for the first time in our marriage, and we'd get to do it all while experiencing the madness of living outside of the USA. It's not all sunshine and bubbles, since I know I'll spend a lot of my "free time" hunting for reliable information about where to get safe vaccines and buy non-toxic Legos abroad, things that are taken oh-so-for-granted when you live someplace with regulated markets, but I know how damn lucky we are. Well, it's not entirely luck- we both worked our asses off to catch this really amazing break.

Thanks for sticking with me as I've been blogging about this wild life adventure of living in China. I know it may have turned off some readers who view it as gloating or novelty. But it's life as I know it right now. No better, no worse, no more exotic or fabulous than living in Houston or Boston or Los Angeles. It's just my new normal, whatever that means. Like I said, thanks for sticking around. It helps to have some of you online girlfriends to feel a little less like an outsider all the time.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'm about a week behind in sharing this look, but here it is, anyway.

Rob and one of his colleagues organized and hosted a pretty extensive World Music Festival last week, which included several lectures about different cultures' music, ethnomusicology, current trends in composition, etc. Plus, one high profile performance (Indian Tabla!) at the Suzhou Culture Centre, which was performed for a full house! Do yourself a favor and go listen to some of Abhiman Kaushal's tabla performances- insane. Better still? He's a heck of a nice guy and a really engaging teacher. And if you're in a New Music mood- listen to some of Shi-Hui Chen's pieces (she's Rob's teacher from Rice and the reason we found out about the job here in Suzhou). All such good stuff last week!

So, in order to impress absolutely nobody except the gaggle of Indian and Chinese 19 year old students who flooded the concert hall for the performance, I kicked my maternity style up a notch and wore this snazzy little stretch dress, a loud overcoat, silk scarf (so beautiful and SO hard to wear since it's a massive square shape) and actually curled my hair. And then stunk it all up when, after the concert, we joined the performers for a late-night Hot Pot meal. Seriously, wear old clothes when you plan to order Sichuan spicy soup. You'll reek for days.

Meeting Mommies

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I got out last week to visit with other local Expat mommas in town. It's going to be a lot of fun getting to know many of these families and going through the adventure of having tiny ones in China together, getting all the tips and tricks of where to find what we need, commiserating over the strangeness of motherhood abroad with occasional nights out together. It's a great group of ladies and I'm really excited to finally have the time to get to know some of them better in the upcoming weeks. More than anything, after my nervousness about my little booger hanging out breech (I won't speak too soon since I haven't been to an official appointment yet, but I felt a decidedly rotating movement on Sunday), I got two offers to email friends to gather intel on moxibustion and acupuncture specialists in town. Beyond kind, exceedingly reassuring, and incredibly thoughtful.

Plus, it's really fun to hang out with so many lovely people who have THE. BEST. ACCENTS. I am far and away the minority as an American- I've met tons of German families (Bosch is in town), women from the UK, India, several from Spain, Pakistan, and one from Ireland. And the best part? I said adios to the remnants of my nasally a-sound Ohio accent and never picked up any y'all's in Texas, so nobody can place where I'm from.

I mentioned last week that I've been buying and wearing boys' stuff as maternity wear. Here's more proof (and a bump-hiding oversized woolen sweater- my very favorite fiber!). Also, my wispy shorty-bangs of new-growth-pregnancy-hair (the only hair "benefit" I've seen from these hormones) are popping out in every frizzy direction to say hello.

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