Sometimes being a pack rat pays off. Tootle's homework this week is to celebrate the 100th day of school by collecting 100 of an item and practicing counting the item by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s. Doodle had the same assignment four years ago, and I knew exactly where I had placed the bottle of 100 beads that she took to school. Within two minutes after dinner tonight, I located the bottle and Tootle was at work counting the beads. The beads look so pretty in the bottle that they likely will go back to the same spot on the girls' shelf when Tootle is done with them.
Tootle's kindergarten class recently read the story of the Three Little Pigs and then had a homework assignment to make a wood, straw, or brick house out of a brown paper bag. Tootle chose to make her house out of candy: three kinds of licorice, gum, a Skittle, and a marshmallow. Much candy ended up in Tootle's tummy (she opened up a fun size pack of Skittles for the doorknob; she used one for the house and the rest were quickly eaten, etc.) so she is more convinced than ever that reading is fun.
When Tootle first came home two-plus years ago, her favorite books were The Runaway Bunny and The Very Quiet Cricket. As I read, she would also tell her version of the story in Chinese. As weeks went by, she began to listen to the English version and stopped telling her own story. Sometimes I still miss hearing her tell the story in Chinese, even if I only understood a few words. Thankfully she still loves to look at books and make up her own stories; often her stories are funnier than the original ones.
To see more pictures of cute kids reading (or participating in reading related activities like Tootle), click here.
If Tootle ever decides to get a tattoo, watch out. She won't stop at one. At her school's International Night, she decided that 10 Japanese characters on your face and hands and even neck is far better than just one or two. The artist seemed to be amused by her. Tootle also got an ornamental flower on her forehead from the India booth. Body decoration and salsa dancing were the highlight of the night for Tootle; for me it was the yummy food from many different countries and the chance to catch up with friends. Notice the watch on each wrist: Tootle told me that she wants to make sure that she isn't late for anything.
Tomorrow night for the first time Doodle will go to a birthday party at the home of a friend whose parents I haven't met. I know that this will happen more frequently in the coming years as she earns more independence, but it concerns the inner control freak in me. At least in this case I do know the girl (she's a new girl in the school this year), and the party is only 2.5 hours long. It's hard for me to believe that Doodle will be in the double digits in just three months. Only yesterday she was a 10 months old baby with curly ringlets; soon she will be a 10 year old tween. I need to get started on the photo book that I plan to make of the first 10 years of her life. It's likely to be her second favorite present; top ranking will go to the iPod that she is begging for.
I've spent way too much time in the last week trying out new Chinese recipes as I settle on a dish to take to an international potluck at Tootle's school. We love to make jiaozi but I was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep the dumplings warm, so I crossed that favorite off my list. Next I whipped up some wonton soup that I thought I could take in a crockpot: tasty but some of the wrappers exploded, resulting in floating balls of pork filling. Unacceptable. Finally tonight we made spring rolls. I baked the spring rolls, and I'm really happy with the result. The girls each ate two, even though I didn't bake them until after dinner. I think I've finally found the winning recipe. Now I just have to convince Tootle to wear her Chinese clothes for the parade of nations that is one of the highlights of the evening.
My Aunt Ruth died this week. We all went to today's funeral service. I decided several weeks ago that both girls were old enough to attend the service and that they would benefit from having the opportunity to say goodbye to their beloved aunt. The casket was open until the church service began, and both girls were relieved to see Aunt Ruth looking peaceful and beautiful, far different than she looked when we visited the nursing home over Christmas. Tootle asked to go up and view the body several times and told me that she liked playing with Aunt Ruth and that she misses her. The girls enjoyed hearing stories about Aunt Ruth that they hadn't heard before.
Most children were a bit afraid of Aunt Ruth. She lost most of her hearing after a childhood illness so she wore a hearing aid and talked very loudly. Doodle always connected more with the aunt who Aunt Ruth lived with, but Tootle was different. She loved Aunt Ruth form the moment she met her. When we visited, Tootle spent much of the time sitting on Aunt Ruth's lap or standing beside her chair showing her things and asking her to play. Today when Tootle became a bit restless during the service, I handed her an index card I had in my purse and a pen. She drew a flower and then wrote From Tootle. Next she added a "To" and whispered, "How do you spell Aunt Ruth?" I told her, and after she was finished writing the name, she added another flower and a sun to her picture. When the church service ended, she told me that she wanted the drawing for her aunt to go on top of the casket. As I held back tears, I told her that we would try to make it happen. After consulting with the relatives who were in charge of the arrangements, we gave the card to the undertaker who slipped the card in so that it peeked out of the beautiful flower arrangement on top of the casket. When the graveside service ended, the undertaker made sure that Tootle could see that her card was in place. I sometimes am in awe of my children, and this was one of those times. I was so touched that Tootle would think to make a drawing that would be with Aunt Ruth's physical body forever. It was the perfect gesture to bring Tootle some closure. Doodle hasn't found closure yet. She is asking a lot of questions, some spiritual (about heaven) and others scientific (about the blood that was in her body), and I expect that the questions will continue for a few more days. As sad as we are about Aunt Ruth's death, I think the girls' first funeral was a beautiful experience for both of them.
As I remembered my aunt today, I kept coming back to one of my favorite memories of her. As a young adult I once attended Christmas Eve service with her at her hometown church where she was in charge of virtually everything. I had never heard her sing before, but that night she sang out loud and clear as the congregation sang Joy to the World and Silent Night. I discovered that she was utterly tone deaf, something that she probably knew, but that knowledge didn't stop her from belting out her joy over Jesus's birth. When the service ended, white haired 60 some year old Aunt Ruth raced to the front to manage the distribution of poinsettias. Aunt Ruth was totally in her element: confident, caring, and in charge. Aunt Ruth, I hope that you no longer need your hearing aid and that you could hear today's praises and remembrances as your family and friends gathered in that little church that you so loved.
1. We spent a fun-packed afternoon last Sunday with another mom and her daughter, who is also from Doodle's travel group. Doodle's friend is a year older than her and they don't see each other as much as we would like, but they always have a blast when they're together. We ate lunch, went to a park, and went ice skating, all in the span of four hours.
2. One of the moms in our group announced this week that in a few months she and her two daughters are moving to China for several years. We can't wait to visit them there. I want to take Doodle back to her hometown before she becomes a teenager. I'm making tentative plans to go in 2009.
3. Another mom is snagging free tickets to a play in her community for our group. She does this every year, and the girls always enjoy the performance.
Our group soon will enter into its high season: Chinese New Year. We'll likely come together two to three times during the two-week celebration. I love having a fun, colorful holiday to celebrate in the midst of winter.
Lissa's Friday foto challenge this week is Bling. I have taken thousands of pictures of Tootle in the last 2.5 years but I could only find a few where she is doing the bling thing. Tootle is a sporty girl, and the many dress up clothes and jewelry that Doodle enjoyed when she was younger are wasted on Tootle (although her friends enjoy our trunk full of stuff). Tootle loved a beautiful bracelet that a friend brought her from Turkey and wore it for about a day before putting it in her jewelry box. Tootle will never have a princess birthday party. Her idea of accessorizing is a watch or shin guards.
In the pictures, Tootle is 4, and Doodle is 5. Doodle had just been given the princess makeover at Club Libby Lu.
After playing with a family member's Wii over the holiday break, we all have decided that it's time to get one for our house. But it isn't easy. I've spent way too much time in the last week trying to track one down online. No stores in our area have had any recently. I follow one of those tracking sites, but it seems that the only times that any appear in stock online are when I'm in meetings or have just left the office for the day, and then the window of opportunity is less than 10 minutes. Doodle thinks that I should refuse to leave my office until I secure one. I had to inform her that I'm not going to lose my job just so she can have a Wii. The ironic thing is that the family member's Wii was secured by Nana at Target one Sunday in early November. At the time I didn't think we needed or wanted one, mainly because we have Game Cube, which no one ever plays with. I didn't realize the addictive power of the Wii Sports games. Perhaps hitting the refresh key so often is my training so I don't get an Wii arm injury.
I love bedtime conversations. Tootle reported tonight that she's "thinking about getting married." When I quizzed her about the identity of the groom, she quickly backed down and said that she was "just joking." One of Tootle's favorite playmates in her class is a boy so I half expected her to say that she was going to marry him. Tootle has another suitor as well: the boy who lives across from us lets everyone know that Tootle is his girlfriend.
I generally like even numbered years better than odd ones so 2008 is certain to be a good one. It has already started out on a high note. Doodle did a fill in the blank resolution sheet from the newspaper and chose two resolutions that I really like: she will keep her hair out of her face and she will obey me. She also wrote that she will be nicer to her sister and will learn to ride a bike with one wheel.
Tootle has no resolutions, although she is keen to improve her bike riding skills. The mild weather has allowed the girls to log quite a bit of time on their bikes, but winter is on its way again.