Monday, February 26, 2007

Weekend Fun Brought to You by the Letter S: Sleepover and Snow

Doodle and her sleepover buddy asked to watch Open Season at 11:15 p.m on Saturday. I held them off until Sunday morning at 8 a.m.

The snow quickly piled up on Sunday, and the girls spent three hours outside. The snow was perfect for building snowmen. Our snow family included this five-foot cutie and three snow babies.

Tootle and a 15-year-old neighbor made this adorable snow bunny, which unfortunately is a bit hard to see here.

Sisterly love.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Matters of the Heart

Heart-related topics have been at center stage in our house this week. When my mom went for her annual physical a few weeks ago, her EKG showed a change in pattern, so she underwent a nuclear stress test last week. The stress test found a bundle branch block, which involves partial or complete interruption of the flow of electrical impulses through the right or left bundle branches of the heart (in her case the right). Such blocks are usually caused by clogged arteries so this week Nana had an angiogram, which we expected to be immediately followed by angioplasty to clear the blockage. Except there was no blockage, so the arrhythmia that she is experiencing/bundle block damage is unexplained. She goes back to the cardiologist next week and likely will be put on drugs to control the arrhythmia, even though she is experiencing no symptoms. My mom has always been like an energizer bunny, so it's strange to see her aging and slowing down, even if it's not by much.

Tootle's energy level was high today at the I Love You Luncheon at her preschool. Tootle and her classmates made the lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and decorated cookies, as well as served us and entertained us with some songs about love. She needs a bit of training in how to hold the tray (I was afraid the food would slide off at the angle that she held it) but her teachers reported that she did an expert job of setting the tables. Doodle missed the fun because she had three quizes--there should be a law against too many tests on Friday--but Tootle saved her sister some garlic bread and proudly showed her the video. I'm still hearing the Skidamarink song:

Skidamarink a dink a dink

Skidamarink a dink a doo

I love you

Skidamarink a dink a dink

Skidamarink a dink a doo

I love you

I love you in the morning and in the afternoon

I love you in the evening and underneath the moon

Oh, Skidamarink a dink a dink

Skidamarink a dink a doo

I love you

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What If...

Tootle is very into asking what if... questions, except she has trouble with the "wh" sound and runs the two words together so it comes out sounding like "wolfif." She can say it correctly if she speaks slowly, but I've become fond of her version and don't correct her as much as I probably should. Here is a recent conversation that illustrates the depths of a four-year-old's curiosity.

Tootle: You're allergic to dogs. Wolfif you were allergic to cats?

Me: I'd have to take strong medicine (we have two cats).

Tootle: Wolfif you were allergic to fish?

Me: I've never heard of that happening, but I would have to take medicine, or we would have to find a good home for the goldfish.

Tootle: Wolfif you were allergic to horses?

Me: That would be OK because we don't have any pet horses, and we don't visit the stables very often.

The conversation continued for several more minutes, becoming sillier by the second as Tootle asking wolfif questions about furniture, toys, and zoo animals. The wolfif questions always make me smile, no matter how tired I am. I think they're easier and more fun to answer than the "why" questions that she loved asking six months to a year ago. I want this stage to continue for a bit longer.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Snow Much Fun

One week after the big snow/sleet/ice mess, the girls are finally going back to school tomorrow. Doodle's Valentine's Day party has been canceled, and Tootle's Pre-K I Love You Luncheon has been postponed until this Friday. Doodle went to the office with me last Thursday and Friday; I'm going to miss her tomorrow. She did homework, read, played Club Penguin on the computer, and charmed my coworkers.
The ice is still so hard that I can walk on top of it to put out the trash and recycling. A few things to look forward to this week: the thaw that will make the storm a memory, quesadillas made by Doodle at her cooking class tomorrow after school, and the I Love You Luncheon, where Tootle and her classmates will prepare and serve lunch to their loved ones.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy New Year

  1. House thoroughly cleaned: check
  2. Hongbao stuffed with chocolate coins ready to be distributed to the girls' classmates and other friends: check
  3. Red envelopes with money for each girl ready to be put under their pillows: check
  4. Dumpling ingredients and craft supplies bought for tomorrow night's party: check
  5. Nian Gao cake recipe from China Sprout on kitchen counter, waiting for me to whip up the cake in the morning: check
  6. Silk brocade jackets hanging in the girls' room, ready to be worn in the morning: check
It appears that we are ready for the lunar new year. This is the second of three weekends filled with Chinese New Year activities. Before having kids, I took February vacations to warm destinations. Now the New Year's activities chase the February blahs away. Happy New Year.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Calendar Girl

Tootle is from the Lily Orphan Care Center at Hangzhou Children's Welfare Institute. Each year the orphanage produces a calendar with a mix of pictures of children at the orphanage and at home with their forever families. It's a beautiful calendar, and it appears that the orphanage mails it to some families but not to everyone. And you may get a copy one year but not the next.

In 2006, Tootle was pictured in March wearing an adorable yellow coat and matching beret. We got a copy of this calendar from a family that was in Hangzhou to adopt their second child and came back with several calendars. I treasure this calendar because I didn't previously have this photo from Tootle's early life.

I will be on a mission to get this year's calendar after seeing a copy that a kind parent scanned into the photos section of the orphanage's Yahoo group. Tootle is once again in March; this time it's a photo that I snapped a few days after we got home in 2005 of Tootle picking strawberries and enjoying the sunshine. There may also be a photo of her in the orpahange in December (in the white fur coat); it's hard to tell from the scanned picture.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Tootle's Twofer

Six weeks ago Tootle started ice skating lessons. Today the session ended, and the instructor tested the kids to determine their placement for the next session. All participants receive ribbons. If you don't move up to the next level, you receive a participant ribbon. If you do pass the test, the ribbon is a bit fancier. Today Tootle got not one, but two fancy ribbons. She took Tots 1, but she managed to become comfortable enough in skates to also pass the Tots 2 test, so she'll be in Tots 3 when lessons resume in two weeks. She is proud of her accomplishment, as is her big sister (and her mom). I'm not a very good skater--my right ankle only has about 90 percent mobility since I broke it four years ago--so the little one will soon be zooming ahead of me and acquiring skills that I won't be able to replicate. She aspires to spin, and I think she will eventually do it.

My determined Tootle also spent some time this afternoon trying to get the hang of the yo yo at the Chinese New Year program at a local library. By the time they kicked us out (she and a few other kids really didn't want to stop), she was starting to have some success. Tootle held her ears during the lion dance but she loved the dancing, martial arts, and yo yo performances. Many of our China Moms friends were there, and we struck by how many of the kids now have glasses and/or braces. They are growing up. Doodle wasn't at the library program; she was with her Brownies friends at a Thinking Day event. They got to ride a bus into the city, and she came home excited about the things she learned about other countries.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


Last night as Tootle got ready for bed, we were sitting at the top of the stairs discussing what books to read. Our stairway has 10 or so steps, a landing where one bedroom is located over the garage, and then 3 more steps that lead to two more bedrooms and a bathroom. Tootle said that she wanted one of the new books that she just got from Scholastic through her school; they were still downstairs. Before I could rise to go downstairs, Chicka Chicka 1-2-3 came flying through the air, magically appearing. Tootle's eyes sparkled at the magic, and she requested another one of the new books (a Clifford book), that also magically appeared. Thanks Doodle for putting some magic into our evening. I love those laughing fits when no one can stop, even if it did delay bedtime for a bit.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Shannon asked for the jiaozi recipe that I use. I am lazy and buy frozen Chiripdong dumpling wrappers at our local Asian market. The recipe that I use/modify a bit is from the back of the dumpling package. If you want to make your own dumpling wrappers, China Sprout has a recipe:

I'm also providing the delicious ravioli lasagna recipe from Doodle's first week of cooking class. This week Doodle says that she wants to be a chef when she grows up. Tootle wants to be a soccer player.

Dumpling Recipe
11 oz. (213g) ground pork meat
0.7 (20g) each of minced Chinese cabbage, Chinese mushroom (I used standard mushrooms; I consider this to be an optional ingredient), carrot, ginger, scallion, and bamboo shoot (I didn't include this)
1 whole egg
2 teaspoons each of water and soy sauce
1 teaspoon each of cornstarch and cooking wine
1/2 teaspoon each of salt and sesame oil

Mix filling ingredients well. Put a teaspoon, or slightly less, in the center of a dumpling wrapper and fold over to form a semicircle. Seal the circle edge with water. Press together firmly to make sure that the filling is inside the wrapper.

The recipe calls for putting the dumplings in hot boiling water for 4-6 minutes until they are floating on top of water. Instead I steamed them in a bamboo steamer (with cabbage leaves on the bottom to avoid sticking) positioned above my electric wok for about 7-8 minutes. We found the boiled ones to be a bit watery and not as flavorful. Tip: I minced the cabbage, carrots, mushroom, and scallion in a food processor.

Ravioli Lasagna
1 jar (26 oz.) tomato and basil pasta sauce
1 family size package (20 oz.) frozen and thawed or refrigerated ravioli
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 1/2 cups reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking dish and the bottom side of a square foil sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread a few spoonfuls of sauce in the bottom of the dish. Top it with 1 layer of ravioli (let their edges touch but not overlap). Top the ravioli with 1/2 of the sauce, 1/2 of the vegetables, and 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat the layers once more, starting with the ravioli and ending with the cheese.

Cover the lasagna tightly with foil, sprayed side down. Cook it for one hour, removing the foil for the last 5 minutes of baking.

Monday, February 5, 2007

What If They Forget the Baby?

Friends welcomed their first daughter and third child under the age of 5 into the world late last week. This little beauty is one-quarter Chinese; her paternal grandfather is from China. My friend was raised with very little exposure to his Chinese heritage, beyond being given a Chinese name by the eldest member of his family and having oranges at Chinese New Year. My friend's children are being raised to embrace Chinese culture, and for the second year in a row, he and his wife will join me in doing a Chinese New Year program at preschool. Their oldest son is in Tootle's class.

Tootle is fascinated by babies and can't wait to meet baby Audrey; she loves looking at the Flicker album of the baby's first few days. At bedtime I told Tootle that the baby would come home tomorrow. With a concerned look on her face, Tootle asked, "But what if they forget to take the baby with them?" I don't think Tootle was thinking about her own life (she wasn't upset) but the question has nonetheless haunted me.

While Tootle was about to turn three when she joined our family, she has told us very little about what she remembers about life in China. When she talks about China, she mostly talks about the day that her sister and I arrived and we bought her new pink shoes, and other adventures of our trip. I sometimes feel like I'm trying to put a puzzle together, and I only have a few of the pieces. We have a treasured video of Tootle with her foster mother, and she says that she remembers her, and she and baba were nice, but she likes our house better. When we made dumplings a few weeks ago, Tootle said that she done it before, and I believe her, but when I encouraged her to tell me more, she didn't have anything to add. I have a series of pictures from the orphanage in which Tootle is always stylishly dressed so I assume that her foster family was either well off or the mother was a talented seamstress; I just don't know and I probably never will because the orphanage doesn't provide any information about the foster families. I covet more puzzle pieces; I want to know more about the first three years of my daughter's life. I don't yearn for information about Doodle's early life in China nearly as much because she was only seven months when she became my daughter. What leads a child to even ask if a baby will be left behind?

Uppercase 4 and Capital As

The scene: a crowded elevator. Pointing to the display of floor numbers above the door, Tootle announces, "We're on uppercase 4." Upon questioning, she reveals that the triangular 4 is uppercase and the 4 that is open on the top is lowercase. The bemused people on the elevator liked her reasoning. She's certainly an outside-of-the-box thinker.

Doodle recently brought home proof of her brain power: straight As/Os on her report card. I give her $1 for every A/O, so I'm out $15. I'm so proud of how well she is doing in 3rd grade.