Wednesday, April 30, 2008

thanks for the snacks

One of the fun things about guests from the states is that they tend to bring things with them. In particular, Tovina got Cheerios, little peach flavored stars (similar to Cheerios) and teething biscuits.

She has clearly taken to the biscuits.
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Portion control

Tovina is making progress with the whole eating thing. Her latest trick is biting food with her 2 front teeth.
Though sometimes she bites off more than she can chew.
(Please forgive me, but it had to be said)

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Tovina has been disappointed with the quality of some of the local magazines so she has taken it upon herself to perform a little home-editing.
She has been quite happy with the results.
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Beijing smackdown

Here was Sophia taking Tovina down.

It was done very sweetly and slowly so everyone was able to be friends afterwards.

Is this what is referred to as parallel play?
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Friday, April 25, 2008

Hi family

Yay for family visits!
In spite of a last minute plane delay that almost cost them their connection, Michael's Dad and little baby sister Sheila have made it to Beijing!
Tovina was especially glad to see them again and waved for much of the first hour we were all together.

*Random footnote: If your spouse has a baby sister then by definition that person is also your baby sister. If is completely irrelevant if that person happens to be older than you. I'm just mentioning this in case it comes up sometime in the future for some reason.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rabbi G. Marx

Actually it was Rabbi Peretz but either way he was still very capable of bringing a smile to Tovina's face. Peretz was one of the reasons we had that retreat a few weeks back (have rabbi will pray) and he was also the man who gave Tovina a naming ceremony last fall.

We were able to steal a dinner with him while he was visiting the last time and Tovina made it pretty clear that he is her favorite rabbi.
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Monday, April 21, 2008


One of the members of our community wrote this article about Passover in Beijing for her paper back in the States. Given the questions we often receive regarding our Jewish community, I thought I'd share it.

This year we did not attend the community sedar and instead spent both nights the homes of our friends.

8 month collage (title update)

FYI: Punim is Yiddish for face.
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Correction: As per CSS's comments, this set represents Tovina's 8'th month of life, not her 9th which has yet to evolve.

Chag sameach!

Tovina celebrated her first Passover this past weekend. So far this has mostly meant that she has gone to bed really late. (She made it almost to the 4th cup of wine at 10:45pm on Saturday. If you check out this Passover sedar (order) you can see that the 4th and last cup of wine is drunk way at the end of the evening.)

Tovina did get to try some traditional Jewish foods like tzimmis made by one of our non-Jewish friends. She gave it 2 teeth up!

Tovina also has a new frog mobile in honor of her incredible assistance in locating the afikomen on the first night of Passover. The frog motif was in honor of the 10 plagues and today she was commenting extensively on their appropriateness. One could argue that this early bent on deeper interpretation that she is displaying indicates her penchant towards being a Torah scholar.

Another possibility is that she was giving a discourse on the fact that the frogs are green.

In keeping with most great Jewish debates, its open to interpretation.

All in all, I’d say her first brush with Passover has been a success.

*Chag Sameach = Happy festival
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Chew toys

You may have noticed or have at least heard that dogs love to chew on leather. I always thought that was some residual wolf instinct It turns out that Tovina is either part wolf or teething brings out the dog in each of us.

Notice that she is an equal opportunity chewer, giving each foot its turn.

She was so proud of her efforts that she posed for this last shot so as to show off the damped area of each foot.
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cooking -or- Are you sure we have time for this?

As you may recall, Michael and I use to cook all the time. In the last 8 months our number of self-cooking nights seems to have fallen off. Really it had fallen off before, when we started asking our ayi to cook for us, but something seemed to change last August that made our lack of cooking much more noticeable.

However, about 9 weeks ago we had a party for some friends of ours and their soon-to-arrive new family member. (Since it has taken me 9 weeks to blog this, Zach is no longer a soon-to-arrive but now an arrived-and-kicking.) We were pretty darn excited for them so hosting this small gathering, or as some might call it - baby shower - to bring a few of their friends together so we could all congratulate them made us feel very happy.

For the get together we made koftas and mango salsa, chocolate cupcakes and icing, spicy popcorn and nut mixture, meringue cookies with and without coconuts, chocolate no-bake cookies, wheat bread, and a banana loaf. The veggies, cheese, and crackers were purchased and required no extra effort on our part.

What was fun, other than sharing the day with friends and eating food, was that it reminded us that we like cooking and we should do more of it.
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Food, glorious food!

We are making some serious progress on Tovina's eating habits. Today she had 1/4 of a mango, half a banana, and a whole egg yolk. It is so wild to just watch her eat it all up. Very fun and impressive.

The down side is that she also seems to be making some serious progress on getting that food to go all the way through her system. Also very impressive. We decided it would be best to not share pictures of this event.

I would not have thought to give her eggs yet but 2 of my Chinese classmates told me that they started their children on egg yolks at 4 months.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shanghai friends

More Shanghai pics for you.
Here is Tovina with her babysitter of the month. So far she has had someone new each time other than last month. Luckily she is a pretty easy going child. But we think that the same ayi will be able to join us next month again!

And here is Tovina with Wolfram. Tovina is smiling because she was enjoying learning some German to compliment her English and Chinese.
Well, that and she really adored Wolfram.
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Monday, April 14, 2008

Beethoven 5th

Saturday night Tovina learned to play some classic tunes with my classmate Hsiao at Wuminosachi's Japanese restaurant in Shanghai.
Unfortunately an actual piano was not available during filming.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Nice Hat

To keep the blazing Australian... ur... dimly seen Shanghai sun off her scarcely protected head, Tovina is now sporting her fancy newly borrowed hat. You can't see, but there is a great flap in the back that covers not only her head but also the back of the neck.
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Almost ready

Tovina and I are heading to Shanghai again. As you can see, she is all ready with her outfit and jacket. If I was just a little quicker, she would also have been wearing socks in this picture.
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Happy Garden Gnome

Daddy dressed Tovina today but she clearly liked the outfit!
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Weekend retreat

The retreat was at Mutianyu, a nearby section of the great wall. We had outdoor services Friday night and Saturday morning and night as well as an outdoor Torah trup (singing) lesson. We didn't actually have services on the wall itself, but many people hiked over and then back at some point during the day.

One of the fun things about this weekend is how many children attended. Here are some of the girls sitting around after dinner Friday night.
And here is Tovina coveting Sophia's hair. There was a hair pulling incident at one point and we tried to explain that Tovina was 1) unaware that she was pulling because babies don't always know what they are doing and 2) just jealous.

Gabrielle and Tovina are involved in some serious Torah study.

Judy and Tovina ignoring some serious Torah study.
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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Expat Show

There was a vendor fair at the convention center across from our apartments today.
We stopped by and Tovina came home with this cool balloon.

The fair had also set up these 4 HUGE stuffed mascots for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (There are actually 5 mascots for the games, but only 4 made it into the picture.) What was extra fun was that after I sat Tovina down for this picture, a rather large crowd formed from passersby who all took her picture with the mascots. I am just waiting for her to appear on the front of some local Olympic magazine.
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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tomb Sweeping Day

Today is tomb sweeping day. a federal holiday. We are about to leave on a weekend retreat so I just copied the following from the embassy newsletter to give you something to read while we are gone.

On each Qing Ming Festival, all cemeteries are crowded with people who came to sweep tombs and offer sacrifices. Traffic on the way to the cemeteries becomes extremely jammed. The customs have been greatly simplified today. After slightly sweeping the tombs, people offer food, flowers and favorites of the dead, then burn incense and paper money and bow before
the memorial tablet.

In contrast to the sadness of the tomb sweepers, people also enjoy hope of Spring on this day. The Qing Ming Festival is a time when the sun shines brightly, the trees and grass become green and nature is again lively. Since ancient times, people have followed the custom of Spring outings. At this time tourists are everywhere.

People love to fly kites during the Qing Ming Festival. Kite flying is actually not limited to the Qing Ming Festival. Its uniqueness lies in that people fly kites not during the day, but also at night. A string of little lanterns tied onto the kite or the thread look like shining stars, and therefore, are called "god's lanterns."

The Qing Ming Festival is also a time to plant trees, for the survival rate of saplings is high and trees grow fast later. In the past, the Qing Ming Festival was called "Arbor Day". But since 1979, "Arbor Day" was settled as March 12 according to the Gregorian calendar.

First day in Bangkok

On our first day in Bangkok we were not only astonished by how friendly the people were towards babies, but also by how unfriendly the city was towards strollers. There were 6-10" high curbs every 5-15 feet and in some places the sidewalk was even less useful, as shown here. Our first day out was absolutely exhuasting as we hauled Tovina and the stroller up and down and over one obstacle after another. This included the 2 flights of stairs up to the sky train. Luckily it wasn't hot out so it was no big deal. Oh, wait, it was 94°F (34°C)!
Tovina felt the heat too but she mostly reacted by sleeping more. Here you can see her enjoying her first day in Thailand.
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Yay baby laughter! Tovina has started giggling and laughing at things and, simply by acting like a complete goof for a few minutes, we were able to capture some of her laughter on tape. Enjoy!

For a longer version of this, checkout

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

No fluoride, Only heavy metals allowed

We don't drink the tap water here because there are some cleanliness issues (gotta love the bacteria) and there are some heavy metals which don't have much of an effect for a short visit but over 3 years could build up in a body. Instead we drink (the probably better) bottled water. One consequence is that Tovina doesn't get fluoride which is added to the tap water in the States. To make up for this, we get to feed her half a dropper of fluoride each day.

She has been taking the drops for about a month now and while they are sweet and supposedly tasty, it was only this week that she started to decide she likes them. She still purses her lips and turns her head away when I take the dropper and bottle out. But after I smear a drop on her lips (while restraining her head with the other hand of course) she now remembers that this stuff is good and actually opens her little mouth up and then sucks on the dropper.

This is a huge improvement over:
1) Tovina spitting the stuff back at me - which was when I learned that if I only gave her 1/4 of a dropper at a time there was not enough volume in her mouth to spit
2) Having to sneak the dropper into her mouth while she was breast feeding. Not only was this really awkward, it was also sort of pitiful when Tovina realized something tasted funny and would give my breast a very confused and hurt look.