Friday, February 29, 2008

We've got tooth!

I must confess that actually Michael and I have had our tooth(es) for quite some time but Tovina has finally decided to get in the game and sprout one herself. This came to my attention today when she was gnawing on my knuckle and something felt a little sharp. I've only caught momentary glimpses and have not been able to show Michael yet because Tovina has mastered clamping her jaw shut, pursing her lips, and twisting her head to the side. You'd think that Tovina would want to test drive this new tooth on some lovely banana mush but she is resisting the urge with all her might. (see early comment re: clamped jaw)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Check up

Tovina got all checked out today for her 6 3/4 month check up. She is now 17 pounds and 12 oz and 27.25" long. This is right around the 75 percentile which is where she has been since she started these checkups. Unfortunately, the other thing that happened today was that she got her next round of shots. Poor thing. luckily her short term memory is still short enough that it only takes about 1 minute after the shots are administered for her to forget about them.
We were actually a little surprised that she was still around 75% because there is this other little girl we know who is a month younger but slightly bigger. By comparison, we thought that Tovina's growth might be slipping, but clearly its just that Tovina's friends are really gifted. Its good to see that she is already forming a network of such advanced friends.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sleepy Time

Over the weekend Tovina started to (re) learn how to sleep through the night. And it was just in time too because my more recent MBA paper was due today which is about a week earlier than they are normally due and I could use all the extra sleep I could get.

It feels strange but for the last few days Tovina has actually had a sleep routine:
7pm-7am sleep with one waking for feeding which could be anywhere from 9pm-6am
nap from 9:30-11
nap from 2-4
then struggle to stay awake till 7

As for the MBA thing, only 4 more classes!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day

Today we helped our friend Bec celebrate International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.
That is Bec on the left.
Her Grandmother started this holiday a few decades ago and it has since been taken to many corners of the earth. Bec even created a little red book to share the accurate history. You can check out the official site regarding this official holiday or you could also check out this blog which references Bec in this entry.

This shot was of Tovina listening to Bec and her boyfriend (the nice young man standing on her right) explain the history of this mighty fine holiday and the various prizes that were going to be awarded. Tovina won a spoon for being the youngest participant... er... make that attendant since she hasn't really figured out that whole swallowing of food thing yet.

One of the fun things about having this holiday in China are all the... we'll go with odd..toppings that are available for trial.
Michael and I both agreed that the hua jiao powder, otherwise known as really hot pepper, on the left were TERRIBLE although I tried some pickled vegetables on vanilla ice cream and it was okay. More surprising (more surprising than pickled vegetables in your ice cream?!? Yes!) was how much Michael liked curry powder (which can be seen on the last plate in the bottom right) on vanilla ice cream. He says its tastes like eggnog. I actually enjoyed the beer flavored ice cream with fermented bean curds. The fermented bean curds were in the brown/yellow looking box between the red jam and the spicy nut/chili sauce mix in a jar.) The fact that I thought that combo good leaves me almost as shocked as you probably are.
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Friday, February 22, 2008

Forward progress

She's moving forward! While Tovina is not quite crawling, she is getting mightily close and it is pretty funny to watch.

One of the few benefits of traveling with Tovina is that she gets a king size bed to play on. I believe that the linked video is a result of this great big soft but not slippery surface. It was also directly affected by the fact that I found a toy that Tovina will chase at least 6 (or was it 8?) times down the length of the bed. What was sort of amazing is that having reached her goal, I could take it away from her, place it on the other end of the bed, and she would simply turn around and start chugging, flailing, pulling, wiggling, one could even say moving, after it again. Very focused she was.

I had put off posting this video because I was hoping to make it shorter, but now it is a week later and no further editing has been done. I can read my own writing on the wall so I am posting it as is. If you want to get right to the punch line I recommend skipping ahead to the 1 minute mark.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Holiday pic

This photo was taken of Tovina and one of the women who work at the US Embassy during the Chinese New Year's party a few weeks ago. You may notice that Tovina is wearing her red shirt in honor of the holiday.

The picture made the front page of the Embassy weekly newletter.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Its Electric

We have mentioned before the danger of static electricity in Beijing. The gist of it is that during the winter months here, anytime you touch a conductive material you receive a shock. Michael and I have developed personal techniques for dealing with this problem but they were shown to be inadequate when faced with a new dimension - Tovina.

It was bad enough when we started flinching before kissing one another, but imagine how one feels when you go to pick up your crying child and feel the shock of energy go from your hand to her head. This is rarely the soothing action that was intended by said parent.

I have taken to touching a metal object, usually a doorknob, getting the shock, and then touching Tovina. This works in most cases. (The outfits that seem to generate their own electricity fields simply through air contact have been removed from her wardrobe). The problem with this solution is that it makes me feel like I am getting more shocks than I did before adopting it.

I know that parents are suppose to do anything for their children, but somehow this was not what I had in mind.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Who changed the locks?

Actually, our apartment locks got changed before Tovina and I left for Shanghai and I know full well who changed them. Apparently our apartment building decided that the old fashion metal keys were just not cool enough for their image so they switched the entire building over to key cards. You know, the kind that you get in hotels where you slide the card in and out of the slot on the door and the light turns green and you get to go inside. And as you might also know from your hotel experiences, these cards have a tendency to become demagnetized and stop working randomly. When they gave us the new keys, the manager warned us to not put them near our cell phones - which is easy considering all the room I have in my pocket or purse (this should be read with heavy sarcasm.)

Tonight we experienced our first lock out after just 1 month with these new keys. It is easy enough to fix by going back to the lobby and waiting for them to get a new key and load all the appropriate information. But now I am imaging coming home with a load of groceries and a cranky baby and finding that the key has stopped working. It is not a happy mental image.

On one hand, I suppose that 1 failure in about 30 days is not so terrible, but I can fondly recall the number of times that old metal key randomly and unexpectedly stopped working. Let me tell you, it was a lot less than 1 in 30.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On the road again

One of the things I really enjoy about traveling in China is all the people who want to help with Tovina. Here is a picture of one of the eight 20-something-year old guys who descended on Tovina while we were waiting for our plane in Beijing. And I mean descended! They seemed to appear out of nowhere and came in from all directions like a whirlwind. These young men surrounded us and then preceeded to entertain and take pictures of my little girl. After 15 minutes or so I asked if they would like to hold her and they were very excited. I missed the shot just after this one where three of them all grouped together and sort of made her a trophy in the center. It was very cute.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Up up and away

We are heading off to Shanghai for my next class in about an hour. I'm so glad that Tovina is such a good little traveler. With any luck she'll get us upgraded to 1st again!

So this TV thing...

We are still working on the monthly collage, so as a stopgap we present you with this. I call it, 'Tovina discovers the remote control'.

Notice the one raised eyebrow in the first pic.
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Monday, February 11, 2008


This is our 501st post. Wow. I really wasn't sure if we would keep this up after our first few months in China but apparently we are.
Thanks for visiting out site and reading about our family and China and all the various things we are learning and seeing. As I've mentioned, its new years here in China so this blog seems very well timed. Now if I could just capture the sight, sounds, and feelings of all the fireworks being set off in the surrounding neighborhoods, this post would be really spectacular.

Since I've had no luck capturing that on video, we will simply have to celebrate the passing of the year by sharing a video that is now 1 year old.

Here is one from last February of the kitties.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Back together again

We had a great birthing group last spring and this weekend we got all of us together again for some quality baby play time.
Here you can see all 4 of our little ones. From left to right is Gabby (the oldest) with Sophia in the back, then comes Gus, and finally Tovina in the green seat.

Here are Sophia and Tovina mind-melding.
And the 3 girls just hanging out.
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This is why we have cats (Warning: dog owners may find this offensive)

It came up in conversation the other day that there is not a good expression in English for helping a baby fall asleep. This does not seem to be a weakness in the English language regarding sleeping so much as a weakness regarding references to the end of pet's time on earth.

Since both Michael and myself have both felt vaguely uncomfortable 'putting her to sleep' and 'putting her down' even if only for the night, we have decided that in the future, when it is time to help our little one fall asleep, we will simply say, 'time to kill the dog.'

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Assisted steps

Tovina is doing her best to become extremely mobile.
In this clip she was all dressed in red for the Embassy New Years Party. As it so happens, her red turtleneck is also her dock worker/money collector/general thug shirt but that really had nothing to do with the holiday.

Zhao ayi is the person holding Tovina up.

You may also notice in this piece that the kitties and Tovina now interact. It is hard to see her expression here, but usually when a kitty walks into her line of sight Tovina becomes VERY excited. She also tries to pet the cats now. So far, they have not minded... or at least we thought they hadn't. But we now fear that Roxanne's actions at the end of this video may in fact be a sign of protest. Throwing her body down in front of the path of destruction as it were.

Or she is asking for belly rubs.

You decide.


Michael pointed out that we have had the cats for over a year so they were clearly around for the 2007 Chinese New Years. However, last year I do not remember them being scared by the fireworks. Admittedly they only seemed really startled once last night, but still it was odd behavior. Then again, these are odd cats.

I am also happy to report that Tovina slept just fine last night. Tonight might be trickier as there are considerably more fireworks going off, but I've got a good feeling about this sleep momentum that she has been building up. Unfortunately, the other thing she has been building up is her ability to talk to dolphins using her supersonic vocal range. Her capability is a thing of terror especially because she usually hits the really high notes when she is happy so I don't really want to shush her when she is so ecstatic.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Happy New Years!

Chinese new years has started, or at least the fire crackers have made their loud appearance. What I remember most from this holiday last year was being woken up at night by all the noise. Now that Tovina occasionally sleeps 6 hours at night, all I can think of is that if someone wakes her at 1 in the morning with some fireworks... well, its not going to be a good start to their year if I get a hold of them.

And to add to the fun, I believe that the blur of fur that just ran by was meant to demonstrate that the cats don't particularly care for loud exploding noises either. This is also their first time with this holiday.

To make it even worse, the new buildings going up next to us now block most of our view, so we don't even get to see the fireworks that we hear.

Monday, February 04, 2008

New tricks

Early on we brought home a swing for Tovina. At times she has been amused by it although she has never been the huge fan like some kids we know. Well the other day she seemed to have developed a new opinion.

I guess we should just be thankful that the swing motor isn't stronger.

ps. i had heard that some people were having trouble viewing the videos I was embedding so I'm going back to using youtube. Please let me know if this works better or worse for you.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

6 months

Our little one is 6 months old now. Here are some of the things we learned in the last half a year:
  • Sophisticated discussions of poop no longer seem oxymoronic
  • Sleeping more than 3 hours at a time is not actually necessary to function as an adult (though it is useful to function as a logical adult)
  • It takes different muscles to remain in a sitting position than it does to pull/push oneself into said position
  • Being flipped through the air is really fun (though we thought that might be the case even before Tovina agreed with us)
  • While swallowing pureed foods looks easy, it is a surprisingly difficult skill to master
  • Hair is not required for a person to look really cute (Who loves ya, baby?)
  • If you suck on your fingers a lot and accidentally push them too far into your mouth, you may regurgitate a little bit
  • "Little" is a relative term
  • Repeated face-planting is a required precursor to crawling (at least we hope that is why she is doing it)
  • One big dimpled smile is enough to enforce how truly lucky we are to have such a wonderful child