Saturday, January 31, 2009

Two Lion Dances in One Day

Tootle and her friend C wait to feed the hungry lion lettuce and hong bao at International Night at school.Tootle bravely puts her hands into the lion's mouth. Her reward is having lettuce thrown into her face. Tootle and her friend A after visiting booths for 20 or so different countries and having their faces painted with Chinese characters. The one on Tootle's forehead says "love."
Earlier in the day we enjoyed dim sum with 25 of our China Moms friends. This is the first year that Doodle hasn't worn traditional dress for this event. At least she's still willing to go. The 10 and up crowd had their own table this year. The youngest girl was 19 months (and made us all yearn for the days when we had a little one in the house), the oldest almost 12.
Tootle's new friend L takes Tootle's picture.
Doodle and her friend S; Tootle and L

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Seen and Heard

I first heard and then saw this woodpecker as I shoveled out our driveway this morning. The picture is a bit blurry, but just getting this shot was a challenge. Every time I would get him in focus, he would scamper to the other side of the tree. We played this game for several minutes before I finally caught him.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

At Last

It's our first snow, and our first snow day, of the season. As soon as the ground was white, the girls and their friends headed outside. Tootle and E were having so much fun rolling the not very cooperative snow that I had to coax them to go sledding. Doodle's friend J is the first person that I've ever seen talking on a cell phone while sledding. Her poor mom was on the receiving end of the scream that she let out as she and Doodle picked up speed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Longevity Noodles

Joan asked for the recipe for longevity noodles. I haven't tried the recipe that I plan to use yet, but it's from Food & Wine and has been favorably reviewed, so I figure that it is likely to be a success. Here's the link: I had planned to make this last night but I didn't go to the store until after dinner. I'll report on the results tomorrow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year

The house isn't as clean as I would like, but the girls did get new clothes today and I have red envelopes ready to place under their pillows. I plan to make longevity noodles tomorrow night. On Friday I'll talk about CNY in Tootle's classroom, and next weekend we'll gather with friends for our traditional dim sum/lion dance event. Rumor has it that the upcoming International Night at Tootle's school will feature the lion dance troupe that performed in the inaugural parade. We may also try to catch the parade in Chinatown next weekend. We've never gone, partly because I'm a cold weather wimp and partly because we often have other plans. Gung Hay Fat Choy from our house to yours.


Doodle, now just a little over two years shy of being a teenager, is rapidly becoming more mature and sophisticated. I see it in her sense of humor, in her decision making skills, and in her increased sense of style. However, every now and then she'll seem like a little girl again. Saturday's indoor soccer game shows both sides of my girl.

Coach Mike told the girls last week that they each would take a turn as goalie over the course of the 7 game season. Most of the girls don't like to play goalie, and Doodle is no exception. Doodle is a data/sports statistics hound so she spent some time this week looking at the standings. She discovered that the team that they would face yesterday lost last week and that their next opponent won very easily, so she decided to volunteer to be goalie for the first half yesterday (proof of her decision making skills). She did so bravely, but with butterflies in her stomach as we drove to the field. Doodle played well, and her teammates dominated the first half offensively, so once again no goals were scored against her (no one has scored a goal against her in the handful of games in which she has played goalie). Ultimately Doodle's team won 5-2, and about half the team went out to dinner together afterwards. Later in the evening, as I unpacked her bag, I found the usual water bottle, different colored game jersey, and extra socks. But I didn't expect to find her beloved teddy bear Abage at the bottom of the bag. She took him along for extra support. I can't recall Abage ever going along to preschool or school but he was a stowaway on Saturday night.

Friday, January 23, 2009


  • The performance of Simple Gifts that Doodle enjoyed so much during the inauguration ceremony was recorded. Apparently the instruments couldn't be kept in tune in such cold weather.

  • Despite the cold weather, we haven't had any measurable snow this winter. Tootle really wants to build a snowman, and I crave a cozy, quiet snow day.

  • Doodle's indoor soccer season has begun. In their first game, the team scored more goals (8) than they did during the entire fall season (5). They won 8-1. I like the speed of the indoor game but hate the netting that prevented me from taking decent photos.
  • We'll spend time this weekend cleaning the house for Chinese New Year. I'm going into Tootle's class next Friday to talk about CNY, read a book, do a craft, and have a parade.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Simple Gifts

This week had brought several simple blessings to our house:

  • Watching Doodle's face light up as she watched cellist Yo-Yo Ma, clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Gabriela Montero and violinist Itzhak Perlman play Simple Gifts during the swearing in ceremony. Simple Gifts is one of the selections for Doodle's spring concert, and she was inspired by hearing such gifted musicians perform it.
  • Playing Pretend Ice Cream Shop with Tootle as she took a bath last night. When Tootle takes a bath she likes to serve me "ice cream" bath water. Last night her selections included Obama flavor. According to Tootle, the flavor was a combination of chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, rainbow, and grape--rather appropriate for our new mixed race president.
  • Having a four-day weekend and the opportunity for one-on-one time with each of the girls.
  • Last but perhaps not least, having Internet service restored after three days of withdrawal for all.

Happy Days Are Here Again

We watched the inauguration of Barack Obama in our living room rather than braving the crowds and the weather. Being less than 10 miles from the events of the past few days, however, led to some unusual sightings for us:

* Trips to our local grocery store resulted in unusual sightings: lots of fur coats and at least one Rolls Royce.

* We also bought some Jones Orange "You Glad for Change" soda. On our next trip to the store, the soda was sold out.

* On the way to pick up Doodle from a sleepover on Sunday morning, in the span of time that we waited for a light to change at a cross street to a major route into the city, we saw no fewer than 22 loaded tour buses.

* I saw Obama and his motorcade as he left The Washington Post last week, as the result of a well timed trip to the pharmacy near my office to pick up something for Doodle.

I've lived in this area for six other inaugurations and I've never seen anything quite like this (even though I attended Clinton's first swearing in and the Reunion on the Mall of concerts and fireworks that preceded it). I hope and pray that this momentum and sense of togetherness will go far in turning this country around. Yes we can.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Cooking" with Tootle

Tootle decided to top off her dinner tonight with a juicy red apple. Suddenly I noticed that she was knawling the apple at a furious pace and so I asked her what she was doing. "Making applesauce," she replied.

Juror No. 85A

Yesterday I performed my civic duty by reporting for jury duty. The last time I was called, about 10 years ago, I ended up as foreperson in an attempted murder trial. At the end of the two day trial, I got to declare the defendant's guilt. You don't shoot a person at point blank range with witnesses present and get away with it. Yesterday, while I was one of about 40 potential jurors called in for possible service in a burglary case, I didn't end up in the jury box. Instead I spent most of the day doing work in a quiet environment, while enjoying the wireless access in the jury lounge. During the voir dire for the burglary case, I found out/noticed some interesting things about my fellow jurors and the process:
  • One older man was an intelligence officer in Cameroon for 20 years. He talked to me about how astounded he was by the cost that must be involved in having a jury trial for a burglary case.
  • The jury pool was much more diverse than 10 years ago. That's a good thing.
  • The woman seated next to me ended up being on the jury. I hope she showed up for the trial's continuation today (it was expected to last 2 days). She asked me who she should talk to if she couldn't come back today. I told her that she had to come back if she was selected for the jury, but that if she had a reason why she couldn't be there the next day she should talk to the judge. She didn't.
  • The defense attorney struck the guy who had been a cop for 30 years from the panel, and the prosecutor excused the young African American guy. I would have been surprised if either of those actions hadn't occurred.

Jury service is fascinating for a day, but I'm glad that my name won't be called again for the next several years.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Prelude to an Inauguration

Living in the DC area and being Democrats means that we have inauguration fever--and a four-day weekend coming up. I think we'll be satisfied watching the historic inauguration ceremony and parade on TV (we'll be able to see more, and we'll be warm). I'd love to score tickets to the kids' concert at the Verizon Center on the 19th, but it's probably a long shot (and it will be shown on the Disney Channel). We did take a trip downtown yesterday to visit the official inauguration store. I got each of the girls a keepsake and some pins. Doodle liked this dazzling t-shirt but I vetoed her request. The girl has expensive taste. Tootle's favorite keepsake is the special inauguration Metro farecard; this was the first time that she was old enough to get her own subway ticket. We also stopped at Union Station for lunch; there was a nice display about all 44 presidents in the Main Hall. Tootle was particularly excited to hear about Abraham Lincoln, and Doodle spent some time learning more about No. 44, Barack Obama. We also saw no fewer than two lifesize, but not very lifelike, cardboard cutouts of Obama.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Portrait in Exhaustion

Doodle at 5:15 p.m. I got a new lens today.
Doodle at 10 p.m. Just looking at this picture makes me tired; the earlier spark is gone. This was taken after indoor soccer practice and pizza and a movie with her teammates.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Gutterballs and Strikes

We finished up our winter break by going duckpin bowling. The lane had bumpers so gutterballs were impossible, but I feel like I've had a few real-life gutterballs since going back to work this week:

  • I'm so swamped that I'm working from 9:30 or so until midnight every night.

  • Doodle's substitute math teacher gave so much math homework that she spent 90 minutes on it before I insisted that she call it quits. At least one kid in the class completed all the work, spending 3 hours on it. Ridiculous.

  • We haven't even had a trace of snow yet this season, just lots and lots of cold icky rain.

We've also had a few strikes this week:

  • I was able to refinance my mortgage, saving me money each month.

  • Tootle is making great progress in reading. She is starting to read chapter books and is so motivated to learn.

  • Doodle got a perfect score on her Thanksgiving letter writing assignment. I received the original of the letter as a gift at Thanksgiving, but the grade wasn't issued until this week. It was a beautiful letter, and it made me cry, so anything less than a perfect score would have been inexcusable.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Day

Tootle tries out her new skates

Playing Mario Kart DS while watching Penn State get crushed