Tag Archives: Chinese mother in law

Hagenbeck Zoo

Some basics

Its been now over a week that we have been in Germany. I barely had time to read through other great blogs or to even make some drafts for new articles. The past week has been busy with renovation work such as carrying a lot of the previous owner’s furniture out, cleaning the roof in the apartment due to 40 years of smoking inside, ripping the wallpapers of and tiles from the kitchen and bathroom. All this does not appear to be that much but it was each day 12 hours of work. And believe it or not, mother-in-law was helping us pretty much with the wallpapers!

The Zoo

Even though we were so busy we had time to visit Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg. It is a pretty famous Zoo which started out 1863 and was officially founded in 1907, furthermore those open enclosures for animals which are often used now were “developed” there. The park is also pretty big for a Zoo which is nowadays within the borders of a big city. It spans over 25 hectares (~62 Acres) with all kinds of animals from around the world. On the premises itself many animals such as peacocks, chickens and the Patagonian mara are running around freely so in some lucky cases you can even touch them.


Besides the main Zoo there is also the Tropical-Aquarium however we were not able to go there as it took us already nearly 6 hours to go around the park and in the end we just were too exhausted. I would have loved to go to this Tropical-Aquarium as I had heard many good things about but maybe next time, as we will live after this summer only around 40 min away from Hamburg.


The Animals

It was very nice to go around as you have rarely and cage bars or similar in between the animals and yourself (actually only the bird enclosures have to safety measurements). We had a good view at each enclosure and could see all of the animals. I am saying this as I have been in many Zoos before where I saw in the whole day maybe only a handful of animals.

At Hagenbeck are Tigers, Lions, Bears, Horses, Giraffes, penguins, Orangutans, Elephants and and and, especially nice it was at the Elephant enclosure as most of them were standing at the moats and the visitors could feed them (with food sold near the enclosure, so no bad stuff here) and even touch their trunks. To prevent any kind of accidents several Park employees were standing behind the animals to check that nothing happens or that anyone gives them some bad food.

Tiger going around
Meet the Alpaca
Meet the Alpaca

My wife also enjoyed her favorite animal, the Alpaca. Especially the Chinese “nickname” for the animals is pretty amusing 草泥马,cao ni ma which made the alpaca famous in Chinese forums. Mother-in-law also found some new friends, the goats. In the Zoo you can enter the goat enclosure and also feed them. As soon as she saw that you can enter the cage she ran in and we pretty much had to drag her out of there to go on…

Mother-in-law and the goats
Mother-in-law and the goats

Our little baby

We were there with the whole family so naturaly little Nathan had to come with us. We left our pram in Finland so I had to use some kind of baby carrier for the chest. Thankfully he is only around 6 kg at the moment so I managed the day relatively pain-free but as Nathan is only 7 weeks old he did not really see any animal. He was more concerned with sleeping the entire time. Later, when he is old enough we will go there again!

What to remember

We were a medium sized group (7+baby) but already this size can get annoying at time as some people prefer walking onwards wheras others want to check out the animals for some longer time.

Furthermore you should eat before going to the Zoo or have something small with you. Not that the prices in the Zoo for food are that high but because there are just too many people lining up to buy food. Besides, lining up for the food and eating it adds up easily to one hour of lost time you could spend going around.

What a cute thing!
What a cute thing!

For some further information check wikipedia or the German website



Living with mother-in-law

Today I present you a new story of my crazy Chinese mother-in-law. In the past seven weeks she has been both a big help and a nightmare for us. Big help when it comes to supplying us with food (though there were some issues in the beginning) and nightmare for my wife when it comes to zuo yuezi 坐月, how to take care of the baby and in my special case due to cleaning.

I am not saying that my mother-in-law is not trying to clean up but it is the matter of how she does it and how she leaves her marks in our apartment, car and other places. First of all, it seems she uses the same oily cloth to clean the tables, ceramic cooking field and our glossy kitchen cabinets. Because she uses this same cloth everywhere, it kind of just smears the dirt all around rather than cleaning something. Now, no problem because I am responsible for cleaning the apartment which is usually a pretty easy job and furthermore because my wife told her not to try to clean anymore.

Now we come to the second point, the main issue. It used to be easy to clean the apartment, such as once a year cleaning the windows, once a month making the kitchen cabinets shiny again and basic cleaning all around once a week. In the past seven weeks I have cleaned the windows seven times, I cleaned every second day the kitchen cabinets and I am busy trying to clean everything else nearly every single day!

It basically seems she has an issue with using door knobs and handles, thus leaving rather oily hand prints everywhere, really everywhere. Have you ever watched a child pressing its face on a window to see something outside and leaving a nice facial print on the glass? Well, mother-in-law is the same, each window has on a daily basis new hand and face prints, the window where she sits in the car is one big mess, each door is full of oily hand prints. At first I did not know how every door and window can have so many hand prints each day until I went to the super market with her. There we searched for some ice cream for her and those were behind sliding doors made of glass. Now the average person uses the handle to open those doors (I know, full of nasty stuff) but she pressed her hands on the glass and opened them (looked kind of hard to do so). Well, I guess I have to just deal with it, six more weeks she will stay with us, I should be able to cope with that. Untill then I will have many more doors, windows and cabinets to clean.


Oh, before I forget, my wife can be really cruel/ mean sometimes. After I told her about my “observations” she asked her mother if her dad had already back in the day his OCD (cleaning everything three times etc.). She told her that in the first few years he was still normal but it changed shortly after they got married and moved together. My wife answered then “Now I know at least the reason why dad became so obsessed with cleaning the apartment!”. Both true and mean at the same time but apparently her mother didn’t get it…

How to make life…

…with crazy mom in law more survivable. First of all I must say that I have nothing at all against my mom in law, just the creepy little things can get rather disturbing.

These small things consist for example of buying always the fattest meat she can find, because she things it tastes much better. The result is always that I mostly don’t see any meat in my dishes because I only find fat. Or her opinion that clothes made in China are always bad but as soon aFat Fats she buys them same ones from, let’s say Europe, they are perfect. There is much more but I want to focus now on the part on how to make life with her more survivable or actually how to make it better for my wife.

This is because soon mom in law will be joining us again for a period of three months. Yes, you read it right, three whole months. All of this just because our son will be born and my wife wants some help. In the beginning my wife was really excited to have her mom here for such long time because then she doesn’t have to cook and gets some help with the baby and much other stuff. But then it dawned on her that it will be during the time of zuo yuezi 坐月子 and that’s the time she started to worry.

For anyone who doesn’t know about this zuo yuezi, it is a period of around 30 days after giving birth, in which the mother is confined to her bed, she is not allowed to wash, to move around or to do basically anything at all. I will have about this soon an extra article as I am amazed by that tradition and how it is mostly rather ridiculous. (Well, what you expect of a 2.000 year old tradition, I mean, in Germany you don’t go around drinking hot beer against flu anymore either…)

Mom in law is very conservative when it comes to old Chinese stuff so my wife got really worried about the zuo yuezi. We decided we need a plan on how to counterattack her mom’s intentions during that resting time. The facts we know about her make it even easier to create such a plan. Main things to know about her to make the first outline of the plan are 1. She loves shopping 2. She believes Europe is great an 3. She also believes all medical stuff is better in Europe. I can’t really say what is all better but I must agree to some of the medical stuff, especially when it comes to baby’s. Additionally Finland got something like a baby box in which mothers, no matter which social status, get a package from the government with Kela Boxeverything needed in the beginning for the baby. This also gives becoming parents an idea what is all needed for the baby when buying new things. Check out this for further information http://news.msn.com/world/baby-in-a-box-works-for-finland.


You may wonder now, how on earth does this information help for that resting month. Oh, it’s easy, so very easy. For example her love for shopping can be used very well during the resting month. My wife is not supposed to go out during that time but the thing is, how can mom in law go to the shopping malls during that time without her daughter?

We already tested it when my wife called last time her mom and was talking about what warm clothes her mom will need here in Finland during winter (easily -30°C /-22°F) and that she wants for herself something warm.

Mom in law got all scared and was like

I will use your warm clothes! Why you need warm clothes? You stay inside!

But my wife had planned for this and asked her

But without warm clothes, how can I take you to the shopping malls? Oh, I forgot, it is not good to walk in the cold for me, so you have to stay with me at home

and mom in law suddenly changed her opinion very quickly

Oh, but it’s very good to take walks in the shopping malls, it is not so cold there and you can sit down there and rest as often as you want. Don’t worry, I will get extra warm clothes for you for the short time outside.”

Of course we still have to see how this will work out when the time comes, but honestly, we don’t worry about it. It’s pretty much a perfect plan.

So what about the other two points where mom in law believes everything is so much better in Europe? This is once again fairly easy as Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world and is thus far better ranked than China. With this we can convince mom in law to do as the doctor and other intelligent people suggest here in the country (it appears Finland/ Finnish people are doing pretty well with this).

When we told one doctor about the resting month including the not washing, she was pretty much shocked, as it can easily lead to skin irritations and with it due to the “unhygienic” surroundings to infections which are never good. Besides that it is usual here to start taking longer walks around a week or so after giving birth, to get the body working again / get the system refreshed after the stress of giving birth and then the week of rest. If mom in law tries to go against it, well, we will just tell her to convince our doctor about her Chinese opinion…

This is just an outline so far of our battle plan and further details will be added in the upcoming months. My wife is very confident that she will be able to persuade her mom without much trouble but just in case we will work on some additional details for our grand plan. You can never be safe enough!