Life with two kids

It has been now nearly five months since little Nathalie joined our family. Our everyday life changed a lot ever since then when it comes to organizing daily tasks. We knew from the beginning that life would certainly not get any easier with a second child and many friends even “warned us”. The thing is that each child is different and needs a different approach when growing up. In our case Nathalie proved to be the exact opposite of our first-born Nathan.

Our little Nathan back in 2015

When Nathan was born we still lived in Finland in our tiny 40 sqm apartment (~430ft²). Our neighbours were surprised how quiet Nathan was as they never heard him cry. Sure he was crying sometimes but that was very rare. Friends of us with children were always wondering how calm Nathan was and how easy it seemed to take care of him. I am not saying that everything was golden with him but we were blessed with a pretty easy-going child. Later we moved to Germany and even had my parents to help taking care of him. First because I was working and my wife was going to a six month integration course and later because we both started our own business so my parents where taking care of Nathan in between.

We always wanted two children and in the case of my wife she always wanted a boy and a girl. Even though we were very busy starting our own business we decided to have a second child. The timing seemed perfect for us as Nathan would be by the time Nathalie is born over three years old and starting kindergarten, giving us more time to raise the baby girl. Though the timing was indeed perfect everything developed a bit different than hoped for. First of all Nathan started kindergarten half-year later than planned as the city had messed up some paperwork in between for his registration. Then our business suddenly developed a bit too well and gave us (especially my wife) extreme work load which had to be dealt with until Nathalie was born. In fact my wife worked until a few hours before Nathalie’s birth and starting again three days later to finish some leftover orders.

Having help from the family is always wonderful (even with MIL)

Now I come again to the beginning when I mentioned that every child is different when growing up and needs a different approach. For us Nathalie was so very unlike her brother. Sure she looked very similar to him when born, to be precise she was more like copy paste of Nathan except of having more hair. Her temperament however was very different. By now she is going by the names “Demon”, “Gewitterziege” (German for “Thunderstorm Goat” and according to dict.cc means sour old hag…) and “Devil”. These are certainly not the nicest names to give to a baby but they are kind of accurate. Little Nathalie pretty much controls the family, not only us but also her grandparents. This all took time to get used to, especially when trying to combine taking care of her and starting work again.

Now five months after her birth we developed a more or less working daily schedule. Despite the many hardships when trying to balance raising two kids and running your own business we do not regret anything. We love our two kids, no matter what trouble our demon girl brings  because in the end she brings us more happiness each day than exhausting crying time. We also love to have our own business as it allows us to work from home and gives us much more time with our kids. The downside of being your own boss are the unregulated working hours, no paid holidays, no maternity allowance (my wife still got 80% of her income when Nathan was born in Finland) and higher health insurance costs.

My parents who have helped us so much since we moved to Germany

Life with two kids is very different to having just one child. It is nothing like “Oh I know by now how to take care of a baby and raising a kid, so it will be very easy”. My cousin who has four children told me once “Having one child is very easy but when the second one comes the real challenge starts, it is a huge difference. After that it is not such a big difference anymore when you have a third or even a fourth child”. I did not really believe her back then but now I agree at least with the part about the challenges when having a second child. I am also really thankful to my parents as they are tremendous help for us as they live so close by. Without them everything would have been much harder and I believe we would have never managed it without them past the initial stage when starting our business as they helped to take care of Nathan.

What is your take on having one child compared to have two (or even more!)?

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Our Daughter’s Baptism

Today our little girl was baptized in the very same church as her brother back in 2014. It is also the same church were I was baptized all those year ago in 1987. As I have written in the article “Our Son’s Baptism” the church is called the Finnish Seamen’s Church and was founded 1966 in Hamburg. We decided to have Nathalie’s baptism in the same church as it just seems to be already a tradition in our family by now.

Nathalie in my arms after the ceremony

 

Unlike at our son’s baptism the church was rather empty this time as we were to only people there. The only guests besides my parents were my brother and his girlfriend. Back in 2014 another family had their child’s baptism and they were a big big family. This time it was for us much more relaxed and obviously much shorter. Only when it came to the singing part is sounded a bit weak as all of us are suffering under the common cold thanks to Nathan who brings back home all kind of craziness from kindergarten.

Nathan amazed by the church’s parrot

We expected the worst behaviour of our daughter as she just loves to complain and cry whenever she gets bored with something. However we were blessed with a little angel for this day as she smiled during the whole ceremony and was watching the reverend with big eyes when she was playing the piano and singing. Apparently our little Nathalie loves church songs as she never cared at all about my or my wife’s music! After the ceremony we had just like three years ago some bread, coffee, Karelian Pirogs and Pulla. Nothing fancy but enough for us and in Finland everything is usually pretty low-key.

Nathalie not being sceptical about her Uncle (see Nathan’s Baptism Article)

 

So what is now the complete name of our daughter? Her official name is Nathalie 逸诗 (Yishi) Amalia. The first name here again is something English and German speakers shouldn’t have any problems with, the second name is obviously her Chinese name and the third one is her Finnish name which we took from her great-grandmother from my mother’s side. In comparison our son’s full name is Nathan 逸然(Yiran) Antti. You can see they are very similar and Antti was actually the name of my mother’s Uncle.

What naming ceremonies/ traditions do you have?

Be sure to follow me also on Facebook and on Twitter as I will post there occasionally pictures which do not find their way into my blog posts. Furthermore there is also my Instagram account in which from time to time some pictures and short videos might pop up.

https://www.facebook.com/CrazyChineseFamily

https://twitter.com/CraChineseFam

https://www.instagram.com/Crazychinesefamily

Guest Post: Gift giving in China

Who doesn’t love to receive gifts? On the other hand, there are many people who love to give gifts, taking great pleasure of seeing the joy and appreciation in the faces of others as they start to open their presents…

Yet, in China, the giving of gifts is quite different from what you may be used to—and, whilst it’s important to make sure you give an appropriate gift, it’s perhaps more important to make sure don’t give anything likely to cause offence or, particularly in seriously superstitious China, perceived bad luck!

So, what sort of gifts should you give?

Well, money is always most welcome—more often than not placed in a red envelope, or hóng bāo and given to the recipient with both hands (this is the appropriate etiquette for all gift giving, by the way). Giving money for birthdays is mainly for elders and children and you may need advice on the suitable amounts to give.

 Then there is fresh fruit or special, quality foods—both ideally imported or, perhaps, local snacks or food items representative of your home country—nicely displayed in a fruit basket or well packaged and visually appealing. Imported wines and bottles of whiskey or brandy will always find favour with older recipients.

Certain items of practical clothing are always welcome and, especially for the younger generation, both Chinese girls and young men, if a brand name from overseas, all the better! However, be careful with overly bright colours for the older generation.

Some may appreciate receiving health supplements such as ginseng, herbal teas or, maybe, a well-known brand of vitamins.

Of course this list is not exhaustive and, as you get to better know the people you are giving to, you may be able to personalise the giving to further meet their expectations.


Having said this, in China, sometimes the gift being received has ominous connotations and there are some gifts which should be avoided at all costs, as name of items shares a similar pronunciation to something undesirable or has negative cultural symbolism.
Such gifts to avoid include: gifts of money which include the number four (such as 40 or 400) as the pronunciation of four sounds similar to the word for death, sǐ. Hats or, more particularly, green hats, should also be avoided as the phrase to wear a green hat is used to imply that a man’s spouse is cheating on him. In a similar vein, the word for umbrella sounds like the word to separate so giving an umbrella symbolises that the relationship between you and the recipient may soon dissolve.

Another one: due to the sound connection between the phrase to give a clock and activities related to death, as you might expect, giving a clock is in bad taste—but also is giving chrysanthemums as they’re often used for funerals.
Finally, shoes: avoid buying shoes for your Chinese girlfriend as the connotation is that she may use them to walk or run away from you, thereby ending your relationship.

However, don’t worry unduly, gift giving in China not as complicated as it seems—plus, you can always ask one of your Chinese friends to help you out with your planned selection before you buy something!

 

 

Keith is the author of the website Love Asian women and has lived in Asia for over 30 years. He is adept at sharing tips about meeting, keeping relationships with and dating Asian women in order to help you find your ideal Asian bride!

How are your experiences with gift giving in other countries or especially in China?

 

My crazy Chinese Family I married into…