Monday, June 30, 2008


I'm told we need to publish some video, so here is Tovina making the noise that means "I want you to look this way." Why does it mean that? Because when Chinese people want to get her attention, this is the noise they make. It also means that when Tovina wants your attention, she might also make this noise.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


The other day, while waiting in line at the grocery store, a crowd of Chinese women gathered around the small center of attention perched on my hip. There was a discussion among the ladies in Chinese and then one of them asked me, "Why do you put her in pants?" With a little more pantomiming I eventually realized the question was - why do you use diapers?

At first I tried to explain that it was so Tovina does not make a mess in the store. But Chinese babies are brought into the store with split pants all the time and I have only heard 1 story of an emergency. So my response just seemed ridiculous to them. What they were asking was more ,why bother with diapers at all? There is all that cleaning up of things stuck to the skin and the cost of buying them and the irritation to the child's skin. Why, they wanted to know, would anyone choose that way?

In my time here I have learned a bit more about the whole split pants thing for children. Most parents seem to learn to read their infants signals very young so that by the age of 6 months or so they know when their children need to use the bathroom and can react appropriately. This also means that the children learn that certain signals will get them assistance for going to the bathroom. Given that a 10 month old's ability to wait is pretty limited, this does mean that small children end up using the ground around the tree in the middle of the sidewalk occasionally. But it also means that their parents carry them around with no diapers and pretty much no worries from a very young age. To have an almost 11 month old child with a diaper.. well, it led to the question above.

Then the line started moving and I was saved from further attempts to justify my approach.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The perfect size for storing Tovina

We are having some work done on the furniture that we had made here. This meant emptying out some of the shelves and have the doors removed. Today Tovina noticed that the space left over is just her size - as long as she doesn't sit up of course.

She practiced going in and out about 8 times as I watched her. Hopefully I will edit the video for general consumption soon.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

That's all she has got to say about that

Tovina gave a bit of discourse today after her dinner concerning the current state of pumpkin soup in the world.
You can view it here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Poor kitties

The cats are more aware of Tovina these days although for the most part she ignores them. Having said that, I will now present you with cases where Tovina does NOT ignore them.
When Tovina is cruising around, Roxanne likes to throw herself in front of the path of destruction. That often prompts Tovina to move in a different direction although sometimes, when faced with such an obstruction, she will sit down and gleefully pull out a few handfuls of fur. At that point Roxanne will start purring.
yup - purring. We are not quite sure what is going on in that cat's head.
Tovina does like these moments because she then takes great interest in pulling apart the small ball of fur in her hand into smaller balls of fur until she finally tires of the whole thing and simply eats the hairball.
I try to step in before it gets that far.

Cyrano rarely takes the approach above. Instead he will immediately jump onto the couch when he senses breastfeeding time is upon us and then place himself against Tovina's head or feet depending on which way she is facing. She likes to bury her feet in his side while eating. Unsurprisingly, his response to this is purring.

However, Cyrano also likes to nap on the couches and chairs. Tovina is beginning to think it is quite lovely having a toy display itself in such a useful location.
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Getting on with it all

I'm sorry that the updates have once again gotten a little sparse. There are a few things going on.
1) Tovina is becoming more mobile and slightly more demanding
2) I just finished my last MBA paper and have apparently graduated
3) I am now looking for a job (this has become perhaps my biggest blogging excuse)
4) We are trying to determine our move date for coming back to the States
5) I temporarily broke another camera (Its fixed now)

There will be more on all of these topics, but I wanted to get our excuses out there as soon as possible.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Girls in the Playroom

In the ground floor of our apartment is an indoor playarea. Yesterday Sophia came over and checked it out with Tovina.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Doing it herself

Tovina has taken to doing things herself. Mostly this means holding her own spoon while we feed her with another one. What is sort of surprising is that Tovina's spoon does not necessarily need to have food on it. Though when it does, she is getting reasonably good at getting the food into her mouth, sometime by taking it off the spoon with her fingers, but eventually into the mouth.

(This is Julia in the picture with Tovina. She was one of my fellow students in the MBA program.)

She also tends to turn the spoon upside down when eating with it. Maybe it is easier for her to taste the food that way.

This whole 'I can do it' attitude means that she loves finger food. Fruit is a big winner as are pieces of chicken, eggplant, Cheerios, and really anything else that is within reach. Frankly we have not found anything that is not a winner.

She is also getting better at sippy cup manipulation.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Learning about sharing

Tovina is just beginning to learn how to give things away to other people. She is starting to play the game where she will hand you something and then you hand it back to her. Then she gives it to you again and then reaches for it again. Then...
She is also starting to share food intentionally as opposed to randomly flinging it around.
This Saturday we were over at a friend's house and she gave part of the carrot she had been chewing on to another little girl.
How generous.
Though her new friend was all for it.
(Admittedly I bite pieces of food off and give them to Tovina, so maybe this seems normal to her.)

Later her new friend was interested in getting in on the Cheerio action (or baby crack as we generally refer to it.) Tovina didn't interfere but she also never looked away. Gotta keep track of these people trying to hone in on the good stuff.
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Friday, June 13, 2008

Dancing Tovina at home

Last week we had Tovina dancing in Shanghai.
This week we bring you... Tovina dancing at home!

Ms Zhao gave Tovina a dancing and singing bunny for Chinese New Years. That's what is playing the music you hear. Tovina is quite fond of it as you can see.

This second one is of Tovina dancing to Cake's version of Mananana (which they spell Mahna Mahna but what do they know?) on 'For the Kids'

As usual, there are a few longer versions available on YouTube under - surprise! - ShamrockJews

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bed head

Tovina has finally managed to grow some hair. Admittedly it is all at the back of her head, but the fact that she now has noticeable bed head at least indicates that she is growing in the right direction.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tourist day

We had a bit of a tiring day today. We moseyed around with our guest Brian, made our way to a really nice vegetarian restaurant near the Forbidden City, then headed down to Tian Tan (temple of heaven) one of my fav parks before coming back north to drop Brian off. At that point Brian's host gave Tovina and myself a ride home where, after a quick diaper change, we headed off to join Michael and Andrew, another friend in town!, for dinner.

Now Tovina is crashing and I am about to do the same.

This first shot is from some of the dancers at Tian Tan.
Here is an excited Tovina at the park.
Here is a kind Brian holding an exhausted T.
And here is the exhausted T trying hard to get some shut eye.
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Friday, June 06, 2008

Dinner in Shanghai

It can be pretty late by the time class ends and I get Tovina all together and ready to head back to the hotel but I still need to find some dinner. There is a McDonald's across the road, but generally I try to find something better. One of the tough things can be Tovina's exhaustion level - she is often pretty tired by 7pm (at home she is usually in bed by 7:30.) She wanted to be carried and cried when I tried to put her in her stroller - not that you can tell from this photo :)

Here is what I ended up eating, a soup made from ingredients I chose. I picked mushrooms, noodles, tofu, spinach, some other green leafy thing, and bean sprouts. It cost 5.5 rmb (80 cents) and was pretty good. Tovina also liked hanging out with the people in the store front so that was an added bonus.

I tried to wash down dinner with this sour plum soda which I had hoped would taste like Dr Pepper.
I was wrong.
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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Donating blood in China

On Wednesday last week there was a blood drive at the embassy. It was very similar to a drive in the States other than a few items:
First off, you get this cool book which you can see here.

They type your blood in front of you
You have the choice of how much blood to donate (200 or 400ml rather than the straight 1 pint = 473 ml)
There are all sorts of restrictions that the US doesn't impose (No donation if over 55 or nursing a baby. Can only donate every 6 months rather than 8 weeks)
There are all sorts of acceptable conditions that the US doesn't recognize (No questions regarding prison time or sex with people who had served prison time, no question regarding traveling countries that have mad cow)

Lastly they gave all these cool gifts. I don't know if this is normal but it was very fun. I got a leather cased manicure kit with clippers, scissors, a file, etc. And even better there was a metal travel kit that contained a fork, spoon, and 2-part chopsticks that disassemble and screw together.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dancing Tovina in Shanghai

Here is the view from Shanghai's Bund. The tall building is Oriental Pearl Tower (Dongfang Mingzhu).

And here is Tovina with one of the lions in front of one of the buildings on the Bund. (Update: the building in question is the Hong Kong and Shanghai bank known for its beautiful interior.)

And here is the highlight.. Tovina dancing!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Circus time

Sorry for the shortage of recent posts. I'm also not so sure I will be doing better this coming week because (drum roll please.....) I am heading to Shanghai tomorrow for my LAST MBA CLASS!! So excited.

But to do a little catch-up. Tovina rode on a little merry-go-round for the first time as seen below in still and in motion.
The other girls are Jennifer who we met there and Isabelle who we have played with many times.

In other news Tovina has now eaten hamburger, cheese, salmon, ravioli with spinach and cream sauce, bruschetta and really loved the tomatoes and buttered bread.
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