The Hot Pot Blog

July 30, 2011

He’s Here

William Maxwell

Born July 28, 2011 at 5:08am.

Like every baby, he is perfect in every, single way except unlike every other baby he is ours. ūüôā

Jury is still out as to when he’ll lose the blue eyes and blond hair, but he’s got his Dad’s double sneeze and adorable nose and my longish legs and normal head circumference. Where he got the massive feet is still a mystery.

More to come once we start figuring out how to function on no sleep! ūüôā


July 18, 2011

38 Week Update

Last week I finally took the plunge and bought myself my anniversary/i’m-about-to-have-a-baby-and-never-shop-for-myself-again-present. ¬†The Canon 50m 1.8 prime lens. ¬†I love it, I can see why people never take this little lens off their camera.

Sure the auto-focus is so clunky and loud and jerky that it feels a little like I’m holding a jackhammer instead of a camera, but unless I’m in a hurry, I usually focus manually anyways so I’m willing to overlook that default, especially considering how affordable this little lens is and what a difference it will make in being able to take nice, clean shots of Thumper after he’s born. ¬†Chengdu is a dark, dark place and the 1.8 lets me shoot a little faster in lower light than I could before. ¬†Besides, I’m somewhat convinced that the auto-focus jerkiness might be the fault of my super shifty astigmatism and not my super cool new lens.

Other than my new lens, there is no news except the fact that CHRIS WILL BE HERE IN LESS THAN 1 WEEK WHICH MEANS THE KID WILL BE HERE SHORTLY THEREAFTER!! Which means that time has officially stopped moving, which is why I am blogging, it’s amazing what a wonderful time-suck it can be. ūüôā

Other items of note:

1. I broke down, our kid now has “a Sophie.” ¬†Yes it squeaks like a dog toy but you know what, it also smells like awesome, seriously. ¬†If I were a baby I’d be all gaga over that giraffe too.

2. What is with this ridiculous desire to fold and refold all of Thumper’s baby clothes!?!? ¬†I mean, this is why people think preggo ladies are a little bit crazy. ¬†Yesterday to avoid being the crazy preggo lady with the baby clothes, I voluntarily cleaned out my parent’s bathroom cabinets for them. ¬†I can’t decide which is worse, refolding onesies or lecturing my mother, the nurse¬†practitioner, on why she should replace the calamine lotion that expired in 1993.

3. As I confessed to Chris on Skype this morning, I’m finally starting to seriously freak out about the fact that we are about to have a baby and from what I hear the process of obtaining said baby is often VERY PAINFUL. ¬†I’ve definitely been a little bit of an¬†ostrich¬†with my head buried in the sands of “LA LA LA I CAN”T HEAR YOU SCREAMING LADY IN THE BABY BIRTHING VIDEO!” And I’m hoping to remain in denial until after this kid is securely in our arms.

4. Truth: I’m preparing for this labor thing the way I’d prepare for a really long, hard, marathon training run at this point: knowing the different stages, knowing how to breathe, and putting together a killer playlist with a mix of uplifting alternative tunes and lots of profanity-laced hip hop for those moments I’d most like to drop a few F-bombs but not directly¬†AT anyone in the room.

5. Don’t underestimate the power of a good curse word, they’ve done studies, swearing actually improves people’s ability to tolerate pain.

6. Just so I don’t sound like a totally irresponsible mother-to-be for my cursing-as-pain-management strategy and for not researching “hypnobirth” or taking a Lamaze class, I should note that I DID take a breast-feeding class in which I found myself trying not to breathe in the second hand smoke on the guy next to me whilst squeezing a yellow balloon with a fake nipple on it in order to make something called a “breast-sandwich” for the somewhat-creepy baby doll sitting in my lap. ¬†I learned a lot and I’m glad I did it but the whole absurd experience made me somewhat grateful for the fact that there are no child-birth classes scheduled for the ten days that Chris will be here before Thumper’s due date.

7. I’ve reached that stage of pregnancy in which people on the street cease to see me as a person but rather as a belly, as a baby vessel. ¬†It’s somewhat disconcerting to have elderly woman hang out their car windows to gawk as they drive past. ¬†On the other hand, the other day I also had some young guys in a truck drive up behind me and start to catcall…until they pulled alongside and saw the massive baby-filled belly. ¬†Their jeering smiles dropped and their faces went ashen. ¬†They looked so traumatized as they sped off, if only all eve-teasing was so perfectly and poetically punished.

8. I’m at this point so bored and yet so incapable of productive work that I wrote an entire blog post about my cat and his neuroses. ¬†I may or may not publish it. ¬†For all of your sake’s I really hope this baby gets here soon, although not before Chris arrives and we’ve had a chance to go see Harry Potter. ¬†One’s got to have goals and priorities in times like these after all.

July 12, 2011

37 Weeks…He Dropped…

…and while writing that title probably pretty much dooms me to having him go a week past his due date, it’s getting to that point now where I feel like I should be checking in on this blog or on Facebook every couple of days just to reassure the world that Baby Dumm has not yet made his grand debut.

He’s not here yet but according to basically every woman I’ve spoken with for more than 5 seconds in the past week, he has officially “dropped” and it “won’t be long now.” ¬†I’ve heard it from the librarian, from my mother, from the woman who owns the adorable baby-clothes store down the street, from the check-out lady at Target.

It’s true, I think he has dropped. ¬†His toes may still be in my rib cage on a regular basis, but his head is definitely down, way down. ¬† After scoffing for months at the idea that pregnant ladies can’t cross their legs, this is suddenly a very, very difficult maneuver.

So is putting on socks.  I hate socks right now.

Of course he could hang out in this state for another 3 or 4 weeks but on the other hand, there’s nothing like your husband’s filght being booked home for a mere 10 days pre-due date to tempt fate.

Hence, Thumper and I have had long discussions about timing and punctuality. ¬†We need a goldilocks baby here. ¬†To early and Daddy misses the big show. ¬†Too late and Mommy’s per diem run’s out before we get back to China.

At this point I’m more concerned with Thumper coming too early, though we’re ready in most ways. ¬†Kid’s got a name (unless we change our minds for the thousandth time), kid’s got State Department paperwork all photocopied and highlighted and ready for us to shove in the doc’s face for signature pretty much the second he pops out. ¬†He’s got a pediatrician and a 529 college savings plan picked out. ¬†He’s got onesies and a bath tub and a place to sleep and the most adorably wee little socks in the world.

I may hate my socks right now but his socks on the other hand are pretty much the most amazing little things I’ve ever seen, so little and soft, and just so wee. ¬†His little baby feet with those totally munch-able little toes will be wearing them in a few weeks!

Unless he’s like his mother and hates his socks. ¬†Or unless he’s like his father and thinks the best way to celebrate the end of the day is to remove one sock–just one!–and leave it somewhere random around the house. ¬†Like next to the computer, or wedged into a couch cushion or on the kitchen floor. It’s very strange.

Perhaps we are just destined to be one of those families with a giant bin of orphan socks in the laundry room at all times.

Ok, I’m getting off track here.

Back to the topic at hand, the salient points from this blog post should be:

a) Thumper isn’t here yet

b) Thumper will be waiting at least another 1 week and 5 days before attempting to leave the womb

c) If Thumper can wait long enough for Chris and I to sneak in one last pre-baby date night that would be fantastic

d) If we could also have enough time to go see the final Harry Potter movie in the theater together before I go into labor that would be really, really great as well.

e) If I go into labor whilst at the theater watching Harry Potter, I have no intention of getting up and walking out until the credits roll.  Green Bay-ren: consider bringing a rain coat to the the matinee showing on the 24th.  Just saying.


July 4, 2011

Walking Off 4th of July Dinner Indulgence

These days Thumper seems to be taking up quite a bit of real estate in the region where my stomach used to be.

Hence, after a delicious 4th of July dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus, silly amounts of watermelon, homemade raspberry lemonade and a massive brownie sundae topped with my new favorite vanilla ice cream recipe-I felt like I was going to explode.  Like I might actually bust my gut.

I mean there is just no way that much baby and that much brownie should ever have to fit together in that amount of space again.  My belly stretched out so distended-like that it threatened to topple me over face-first into the ground.

So I hauled myself out the door for a waddle along the river in hopes of feeling less like I was going to pop from too much food.  I brought my camera and my parents along for company.

Along the way we checked out the corn fields. ¬†Due to an unseasonably cold spring, the corn was not “knee high by the 4th of July.”

I took advantage of the light to get a shadow belly shot:

I liked this tree:

One of the great things about my parents’ house is that they are a 5 minute walk from a trail that runs some 20 or so miles along the Fox River. ¬†It’s great for early morning and evening strolls. ¬†We see all sorts of birds and flowers, bunny rabbits, and even the occasional fox or two. ¬†Tonight we stopped at a bathroom for me along the way and my mom offered to hold my camera since there’d be nothing to take a picture of in the bathroom.

Turns out there was something to take a picture of after all:

Along the way we found this bench, courtesy of a local business:

If you can’t quite read it it says “Dead tired? ¬†Have a seat!” Van Gemert Memorials makes headstones for the local cemeteries.

It’s funny, right?

Along the way I managed to get an almost-in-focus shot of my mom before she realized what I was doing:

On the way home a cop car stopped traffic for me to cross the street by my parents house.  Talk about embarrassing.  Especially since my pained-looking waddle was definitely more brownie than baby-related.

And speaking of baby, he’s due 4 weeks from today. ¬†Insane. ¬†One one hand I can’t believe he’s almost here and on the other hand I have no idea how he’s supposed to continue to fit in there for another 4 weeks! ¬†I already feel huge!

It was a lovely 4th of July spent with my family but it definitely sucked not being with Chris to celebrate our wedding anniversary today. ¬†It’s hard to believe its already been another year and it’s been a wonderful one. ¬†So much has happened since last 4th of July– we survived a Chengdu winter, found out I was pregnant, traveled to Shanghai, Guangzhou, Singapore, Malaysia, and took 14 flights on our R&R around the U.S. ¬†We’ve made good friends, moved again, painted our baby’s room, and fallen even more in love than we were a year ago. ¬† I just wish Chris could have been here for us to celebrate in person together.

Happy Anniversary my love! ¬†I can’t wait for you to get here in a few weeks so that we can celebrate properly, or at least as properly as possible when one is 39 weeks pregnant and not able to drink wine, eat sushi, or even tie one’s own shoes. ¬†Thank you for being the best husband, friend, and partner in crime that a girl could ever ask for. ¬†Here’s to another year and many, many more.





July 2, 2011

Culture Shock

Ok, culture shock and gratuitous donut shots.

By the way, I’m putting cream filled donuts in the “you can make them at home but they really are so much better store-bought” category. ¬†Sort of like hummus. ¬†Mine will just never be as perfectly creamy as the stuff you find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. ¬†That is when you have a refrigerated section of your local grocery store…and it stocks things like hummus.

Anyways, there’s been a lot of radio silence on this blog for the past week or so. ¬†My apologies, I’ve been taking some time to get my bearings again.

Like on the road. ¬†I’m driving again for the first time in…well let’s just say I haven’t been behind the wheel of a car more than a dozen times since 2007. ¬†Wow, that’s actually a little terrifying when I put it into words. ¬†No wonder I drive like a grandma now.

But not only am I driving again for the first time in eons. ¬†I’m also driving in America, after a year+ of side-seat driving in China. ¬†After a year+ of watching people make 15 point Y-turns, reverse up off-ramps, and merge across 3 lanes from on-ramps, I’m having a hard time resisting the urge to slam my breaks whenever there is another car within 20 feet of mine. ¬†Generally in Chengdu we do a lot of break-slamming. ¬†Strangely, this is not such a customary practice in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

I’m also a little thrown for a loop by the grocery store and by the wonders that are modern American produce varieties. My mom took me to Whole Foods last weekend and I nearly had a panic attack when I saw how much produce she had in our cart. ¬†I just couldn’t figure out how I’d be able to eat it all before it spoiled. Most produce in Chengdu has a refrigerated shelf-life of¬†approximately¬†12-48 hours. ¬†Surprise, surprise, produce lasts longer in America. ¬†Must have something to do with that cold-chain delivery and storage.

But produce also tastes amazing here, especially the fruit.  Wow, the fruit.

I’d pretty much given up on buying most fruit in Chengdu. ¬†Cherries are still good, lychee are still fantastic, but other fruits like mangos, apples, bananas, melons tend to taste bland and indistinct. ¬†Some leave an almost chemical-like aftertaste in my mouth.

But fruit in the U.S., especially organic fruit? ¬†Wow! ¬†Cantaloupe¬†tastes sweet and musky. ¬†Strawberries explode with flavor. ¬†Apples have a distinctive wine-y apple-y taste and a crisp bite. ¬†I can’t get enough of it.

I also can’t get enough of pre-washed organic salad greens. ¬†No bleach necessary! ¬†Woo hoo!!

But of course, America isn’t all clear skies and organic rainbows.

Green Bay is a small, small town and getting used to the pace here and the suburbia of it all has been a bit weird.

On the days I don’t have access to either of my parents’ cars (most days), I’m pretty much stuck within a radius of however far I can walk, which mostly includes a lot of other houses. ¬†There are no cabs vying for my fare and there’s certainly no metro system to speak of. ¬†While there is a small grocery store within walking distance, its amazing some of the looks I get from the retirees as I ¬†walk to and from there in my gym clothes. ¬†I get the sense some people who see me assume I’m a knocked-up, high school drop-out-type who’s too poor to have a car. ¬†I’d forgotten how necessary it is to have a car in suburbia. ¬†I’m beginning to wonder if I should consider renting one-an expense I hadn’t really planned on taking out on this trip.

It’s also a bit weird how few people I know personally here anymore. ¬†I’ve got exactly one good friend left in Green Bay but he’s a guy, and while I’d never really considered it before, it’s a little weird-looking in this town at least for an 8-month pregnant lady to be out and about on the town with a dude who is not her husband. ¬†We went out for frozen custard a few nights ago to catch up on each other’s lives and ran into some of the parents of the high schoolers he coaches in football. ¬†As he introduced me as his friend you could almost see the questions forming in their eyes. ¬†Who is this chick? ¬†Why is she out with our football coach instead of at home with a husband, folding onesies?

But honestly, trying to explain why my husband is in China, but not Chinese, and why I’m here, but not staying here is a bit beyond the realm of realistic for polite “nice to meet you” conversations in this town. ¬†Lots of people’s kids may study abroad in Europe somewhere, but the idea of someone living and working in a foreign country is sort of a non-concept in this part of the country. ¬†Even my sister asked me whether our kid would be an American citizen. ¬†At which point home girl learned far more about U.S. citizenship and immigration laws and the current citizenship debate than she probably ever wanted to know.

Anyways this is all to say that I’m very much enjoying my vacation from life in China. I’m enjoying my long morning walks and listening to the birds sing as they flit around the yard. ¬†I’m loving having some quality time with my folks, eating clean and healthy food for every meal, and I simply can not spend enough hours outside each day breathing the clean air and soaking up the sunny skies.

But I’m still having culture shock. ¬†It’s just that rather than a “America vs. China” culture-shock it’s more of big city vs. small town culture-shock and “living with my parents again in suburbia, without my husband or any friends around or a car” culture-shock. ¬† Throw in the fact that I miss Chris like crazy and I’m horrible at just sitting around all day even though I know¬†I should be enjoying it while I still can, and this first 2 weeks home have definitely felt a little weird.

Anyone else have this experience? ¬†This “omg America is awesome but why do I sort of wish I was back in “fill-in-the-blank?” experience?


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