Friday, January 26, 2007

A Toast to Nana

Every night Tootle awakes somewhere between 1 and 3 a.m., comes racing into my room, and crawls into bed with me. Tonight she will not be doing that because she is already sacked out in Nana's bed. When Tootle told me right before bedtime that she wanted to sleep in Nana's room tonight, I could barely hide my surprise as I asked "why." (She is a mama's girl who has to sit next to me 99.5 percent of the time.)

Tootle's reply: Because Nana makes the best toast.

Who can argue with the logic of a 4.5 year old. A toast to Nana's superior toast which bought me a night where I'm not clinging to the edge of the bed as Tootle hogs 80 percent of the real estate.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Snow! (Or Making the Most of a Dusting of White Stuff)


I've been the mom of a Chinese daughter for eight years, and until Saturday I never tried to make jiaozi, or Chinese dumplings. I was convinced that it was too hard. Now I know better; it was easy and a lot of fun. The hardest part was battling the huge crowds at the Asian grocery store, and making a singing/dancing Tootle stay at my side, as we shopped for the ingredients we didn't have at home: Chinese cabbage, ground pork, green onions, and dumpling wrappers. I guess Saturday morning on our way to skating lessons is not the ideal time to shop at the Asian market; I hope it isn't always so mobbed. Both Tootle and Doodle loved putting the filling in the wrappers, and Doodle particularly excelled at the task. Her jiaozi were works of art. She tried to teach me her craft, but I failed so she did the bulk of the work once her far less proficient younger sister lost interest. We steamed
about 85 dumplings, and less than two days later, about a dozen remain. We had them for dinner on Saturday night and the girls have been gobbling them up at all times of the day and night since then. Perhaps I've finally found a weight gain plan for Doodle, although I probably would have more success in packing pounds on her if we fried the dumplings rather than steamed them. We'll be making more dumplings for Tootle's preschool class at Chinese New Year, and I'm even thinking about having a dumpling making party for our China Moms group. What's more fun than having 2 girls at your dining room table making jiaozi? Having 15-20 girls crammed around the table sealing the yummy morsels in dough. I must be crazy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

So Grown Up

In the last week Doodle has revealed signs that she is growing up fast. Here is the evidence:
1. She ice skates on her own during Tootle's lesson every Saturday, without complaining about being alone on the ice.
2. Tootle, the natural athlete, is already a faster, more secure skater than Doodle, but Doodle doesn't mind. She is proud of her sister.
3. On Monday, Doodle did Tootle's hair (a sporty ponytail) and tied her sneakers. Doodle even gave her a lesson on how to tie shoes.
4. She made my bed and did the dishes!
5. The latest/greatest sign is the cooking class that she is taking after school once a week, starting today. She made yummy ravioli lasagna and garlic bread for the whole family. We could get used to depending on her to cook dinner once a week, but at least for the next five weeks, we will be dining well on Tuesday nights (next week, salmon burgers and sweet potato fries). Tootle even declared that Doodle is a good "cooker."
Life is good.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Aah, What Have I Done?

Seemingly with a few clicks of the mouse and very little thought, I have created a blog. One of my goals for 2007 is to find more creative outlets (writing and photography), so I guess this is one giant step. I hope my ramblings will also provide a record for my daughters of their growing up years.

Our URL,, recognizes that my name, as well as that of both my daughters, end in the letter "a". It also brings to mind a very fond memory: my older daughter's first sign of affection for me, in a hotel room in Fuzhou, China, in December 1998 when she was seven months old and we had known each other for a few days, was to give wonderful sloppy kisses and then say "aah" in the sweetest voice imaginable. My younger daughter's most likely first use of the word "aah" was to say: "Aah, that's not fair!"

My older daughter, AKA Doodle on this blog, is an 8-year-old third grader. She is sweet, sensitive, and liked by everyone who meets her. She plays the piano, is a Brownie, and goes to a lot of birthday parties and play dates. It's hard to imagine my life without her because she has been a part of it for over 8 years. Doodle is the nickname that I gave her as a baby and it has stuck. Now I have to be careful not to call her that in front of her friends. She is a secure, happy kid, even if she does tend to be a worrywart. She got braces this fall and is still adjusting to life without popcorn, tortilla chips, and gummy candy. Many of her friends were jealous of her braces; one girl even puts rubber bands in her mouth to see what it's like.

My younger daughter, AKA Tootle on this blog, is a 4.5-year-old preschooler. She has a big personality and is unusually tall for a Chinese girl (off the American charts). She is a natural athlete. She started taking ice skating lessons just last week and is already gliding. She also loves soccer. Tootle is stubborn, wickedly funny, and full of life. She didn't join our family until she was almost 3 years old. A Waiting Child, she is healthy and developmentally on target or advanced. Her cleft lip was repaired in China, and her submucous cleft palate was repaired just last month. She couldn't eat solid food for three weeks, right before Christmas, and she rose to the challenge beautifully. It helps that she loves ice cream. We also discovered that she loves broccoli soup.

I work in publications for a nonprofit association. My challenge of raising two girls as a single parent is made much easier by my mom, who moved over 100 miles upon retirement to help me take care of Doodle. My friends sometimes call her Saint Nana.

I hope to post at least once a week, but inevitably life will get in the way. I'm off to pay bills and read the newspaper, something I never get to until 10 or 11 p.m.