Mother in law visiting

I have mentioned it plenty of times before: Mom in law will be visiting us in February. And as you are a careful reader of this blog you also know it is because her grandson will be born in that month. Basically she will be here to help us out. Basically…but my wife and me know also the other reason, she is especially here to spend hours a day in the shopping malls looking for stuff to buy. However she never buys anything anyways except stealing hours of our lives away…

In the past months we both came up with a plan how to survive with mom in law (the detailed plan can be found here https://crazychinesefamily.com/2013/10/28/how-to-make-life/). But we are not that cruel to think only about ourselves so actually we created also a little plan on how to make the stay enjoyable for her. Here are some of the main points of that plan.

 

Food

She is Chinese, my wife is Chinese = they love food. Problem is that my wife’s mom is not making the best food other than some noodle dishes and jiaozi 饺子.Honestly, I am not a big fan of her food and in my opinion my wife makes much better food (she agrees). This leads to the need of visiting Chinese restaurants on a more frequent level than usual. Because my wife and me did not fear any hardships during the past years in discovering new Chinese restaurants in our area, we have a handful of good ones to visit. They are a bit different from the usual restaurants as they usually two different menus. There is one menu for Finnish people and one menu for Chinese people. The menu for the Finnish people is obviously less spicy, less well tasting and has less variety. Sadly visiting those restaurants on a daily basis is out of the question due to the high costs here in this cold cold country but at least once a week should be possible.

 

Shopping

Mom in law loves shopping. I believe she would even sleep in the shopping mall given the chance. Thankfully we have three shopping malls in close proximity and additional two or three involving 20-30min car ride. Due to these perfect conditions I do not have to worry about the shopping part at all (except the costs involved if she actually finds something she likes…)

 

Snow

According to my wife, she really wants to play in the snow. No problem, here should be plenty of it by then. However I don’t know how long she will enjoy it and furthermore we will need to buy her some good winter clothes.

 

The Baby

Mom in law wants a cute mixed grandson. No problem, our son will be the cutest baby ever (no offence to other babies 😉 )

Great news is that she will help us out with the child, the not so great news is that I don’t really know who might be more annoying at night; the baby crying at night or mom in law snoring as loud as a starting jet plane.

 

Presents

Yes you read right, presents. As any good Chinese who wants to keep face she will have to bring some nice presents for her family and friends. Luckily we have a huge collection of fragrances, make-ups, cremes etc. due to the profession of my wife. So finding presents for her female friends and relatives won’t be a problem. The presents for the men will be a different story. Alcohol here in Finland is incredibly expensive and mostly pretty bad (I would not recommend any local beer to foreigners if they do not wish to feel very sad). This means that those presents are still mostly a big question mark in our plan.

 

Travelling

She will be three months here and spending that much time only in one apartment and few shopping malls will even get boring for my mother in law. However due to the baby we won’t be able to take her to any nice places or countries. But my parents came up with a solution! We will take a ship cruise to Germany, stay few weeks with my parents and go back by ship to Finland in April. With this mom in law will experience some other country she hasn’t been visiting yet, my own parents can see their grandson and even better, we can buy some presents which are still required so mom in law can keep her face.

 

This is our “Big Plan” thus far. Additional points might be still created or other parts changed (and no, the cutest baby part will stay). Have you ever made similar plans when your parents in law came to visit?

 

 

Practicing for Christmas

This years Christmas will be a bit different from the ones we had before. It will be something like a practice round for the time our son will be with us. The thing is, all the previous years we never really celebrated Christmas together. Work was the sole reason for this. Each Christmas at least one of us was working and we never really got into any celebration mood except for the presents we exchanged. Furthermore my wife never celebrated Christmas with her family in China for obvious reasons.

For this Christmas we have decided to do things different from before. We are preparing to decorate our apartment, perhaps even get a little Christmas tree (though it may not fit in our apartment) and we started preparing some delicious cookies for this holiday. Alright, probably I should say my wife started with baking Christmas cookies and I took on the job of eating them. All this decorating and baking is for us both new land. In my youth I  had been always content with watching my parents setting everything up and just as now, eating the cookies.

Even nature is getting into Christmas mood as it started to snow a bit. Great for most people, terrible for me as I really really dislike that white depression. But I will have to deal with it and especially later our kid will probably love it as I used to, before I realized how much work it will cause when you get older.

 

Next step for us on the list are:

  • baking more cookies (I ate them all)
  • buying more decoration
  • getting some “Glögi”, the Finnish version of Mulled Wine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulled_wine
  • prepare a present for my wife (oops, getting a bit late for it)
  • deciding on some Christmas songs to play in the next weeks (How I will get sick of it after some time)
  • watching some Christmas movies
  • figure out what is “must have” for next years Christmas when we are 2+1
  • learning some Christmas songs (I have forgotten them all…)

 

There is probably much more for us to consider but we haven’t figure it out yet. As this is only a practice round we will try to make the best out and learn from our mistakes. But I do know one thing for certain, my wife got the Christmas cookie part mostly right!

However if we still don’t get into any celebration mood on Christmas eve, we will just have a video chat straight into my family in Germany – Christmas feeling guaranteed. Thanks to modern technology we can even see when they unpack the present the sent to them.

 

How are you preparing for Christmas? Do you have certain traditions each year?

 

 

Traveling with the family

Traveling and visiting some beautiful sights can be both stressful and relaxing. The stressful part is obviously the journey itself when travelling in an old Volkswagen Santana and the relaxing part is when arriving and finally being able to stretch out the legs.

On one of our trips to China we went with nearly the whole crazy Chinese family to the mountain range near the Qinghua Mountain 清华山just south of Xi’an. At least I think it was near that mountain, you see the trouble when traveling with my Chinese family is that they have absolutely no clue at all what places are called, so it’s mostly “We go the mountains” or “We go to the lake” or even “We go to the tall building”. You see those information are not really useful so I have to do always my own research about it.

Mountains
Traveling to “the mountains”

So where did I left of? Ah right, trip with nearly the whole crazy Chinese family. This means that beside us two and the in-laws also my wife’s aunt joined with her boyfriend and her daughter (Who is similar age as my wife) and the mom in law’s two dogs. Doesn’t sound so much but if you split this now into two cars of which is one an old Volkswagen Santana 2000 it is not so nice anymore.  So I had the luck to sit in the back of that old VW Santana, with my wife and one jumpy dog. That little monster (the dog…) was so annoying that I had to hold it in something like a death grip until the animal got tired enough to fall asleep on my lap. However this wasn’t yet the stressful part of the journey.

Have you ever traveled in such an old car up a mountain? No? Don’t do it! Let’s just say the car struggled a lot and I have still video material of bicycle riders passing us by on those mountain slopes. Oh, before I forget, of course the cars AC was broken, I lost feeling in my legs because they were stuck so badly behind the front seat, there were no seatbelt, the roof of the car was so low that my head had to be tilted the whole time and there was no headrest in the backseat. Overall it was a cramped and physically very straining journey.

Nevertheless I survived that journey and we arrived “In the mountains” with a nice mountain river passing through a valley. We spent rather much time near that river and I still have a few words of advice in memory given my mom in law.

Don’t go into the river, you can drown!

Yes, the deepest point I could find the water went just a bit over my knees.

The fishes will bite you!”

All I could find were baby fishes the size of my fingernails.

Wash your hands we you come up again!

The water we washed our hands with was straight from the river and we got no soap.

Don’t go to the river after eating, it is bad for your health!

I guess she mixed up walking in a river with doing actual sports.

"The River"
“The River”

I still wonder what the other people were thinking about mom in law when she shouted her knowledge about the dangers of rivers to us.

In the end it is a nice experience to travel around with your family (even if it’s a crazy Chinese family). It was a great day except the journey there and back again due to the issues described above. The best part about traveling with Chinese is that you do not have to worry about food yourself. As Chinese love their food they also take great pains to take a lot of it to a journey and look non-stop for places to eat. This again results that an average European person such as me will never get hungry.

Remember my journey to Hua Shan and my backpack full of food? Thanks to dad in law and aunties boyfriend I only had to carry a manageable amount of food, YES!

My crazy Chinese Family I married into…