Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Busy busy

My folks drove out to share the week with us. It has been great timing because Michael and I have a lot going on and T is pretty happy to play with them. This was meant as a subtle sort of hint about me being really busy this week....
...which is why there is not more to this post.

I will try to placate you with these pictures of Tovina as she decided to eat only the crust and not the inside of a peanut butter sandwich. This was unusual.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009


There were many outdoor activities scheduled for this past weekend by the city. Unfortuantely it was cold and rainy so some were canceled, but we had fun with what we were able to do. Our first stop of the day was at Granny's Garden School Open House. We strolled around some great flowers and vegetables that were planted as part of the primary school. Even better? We were encouraged to pick things to take home.

Have I mentioned before how tough it is to get a picture with more than 1 child smiling at the same time let alone looking in the camera?

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

We made our own challahs this week. Michael mixed and kneaded these as his first loaves ever! I braided one loaf and Michael did the other (we won't tell you who did which though the discerning among you may be able to figure it out from the fact that one of us spent 20+ years braiding her own hair and one of us apparently let his curly hair be free.) They turned out quite tasty and we made ate most of the way through one of them tonight. There may be some braiding lessons in the future though.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Books - English, Chinese, whatever

T is really into books. She likes to take them off the shelf and read them. The best kinds of books for this activity are Michael's old Chinese text books and his little red Chinese to English dictionary. For those who have never had the pleasure, such a dictionary is similar to looking at any other 8pt font crammed dictionary except this one is in a 2 and a half inches thick with only 3x5 inch pages, no pictures, and isn't in English.
My daughter has some strange tastes.
She can 'read' these books for 30 minutes or more. Its nice to see all those Chinese texts put to good use.

Here is an unrelated photo of T in a bike helmet from the Reiss's residence. Ready to take on anything!
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

SpiderFrogs! (Or more about the boom boom hat)

Remember I told you about T's hat that protects her from thunder storms? Well here it is!

But since it is hard to get a sense of it just sitting there, here is the hat *on* Tovina's head.
(Tovina is being tickled by Benson. The hat does not seem to protect her from that.)
. >

Here is T describing the powers of the hat in her own words (with Mommy providing translations)

And here is more of the B vs T tickle battle

Positively Natalie

Remember when I mentioned that Natalie had visited us? Well she wrote and pictured about it on her blog.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Who's got your honey

Some people bring kegs...

...but T's knows that this New Year's party is all about the honey!

Of course, the problem with being all hopped up on the bee juice is that is may effect one's judgment.

To be clear, Tovina very clearly chose these shoes this morning.

When the coppers bust this par-tay in your crib it is essential that one adopts a clueless facade while attemping to conceal the contraband as well as the T-shirt that clearly identifies you as the host.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shana Tova!

Shana Tova to our friends and family and the world in general. May everyone have a sweet and happy year!

We started our year by inviting some folks over for dinner for the second night of Rosh Hashana. As is often the case, this gave us an excuse to experiment with some new foods.

Big successes:
We finally made a challah we like! Very exciting. I had been finding it comical how I had recipes from other people whose challahs are lovely but when I make them they were… okay. Finally bucked this trend.
I roasted red bell peppers for the first time and it worked!
The beef was amazing!

Lesser successes but not exactly failures:
The fish. Maybe because we let it get cold.

The full menu:
Harissa-Crusted Tri-Tip Roast - AMAZING SAUCE
Pan-fried fish fillet with rouille - mhew
Round Challah for the New Year (Plain, with raisins, with dried cranberries) - "better than Panera's"
Middle Easter Squash and Couscous Soup - an old favorite
Asparagus with Honey Garlic Sauce - nice
(My Baba's) Koogle - num num
Fresh Corn Salad with Basil - good
Honey Cookies - a little hard and crispy though they taste fine
Pudding: Indian Rice: Kheer - pareve - we added a cup of black rice
Honey and HoneyCrisp apples from a local orchard - the apples are GREAT though pricey

The meal was assisted by some wine from our guests, honey in the comb and yummy apples, not to mention fantastic company.
A sweet way to start the year indeed!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Never made it out of the stable

Last month while my folks were visiting they taught Tovina many important things.

This was not one of them
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009


This past week we document some of Tovina's singing repertoire. Its all on YouTube, I've just copied it below so you don't have to click over if you don't want to.

Here is her go to song for almost any occasion - the ABCs

The only reason this is 'almost' any occasion instead of ALL occasions is because of how much she likes Happy Birthday.

If you're happy and you know it

Michael taught Tovina that sticking out one’s tongue must be accompanied by a certain amount of silly noises. She seems to have evolved that into silly noise with no tongue sticking out. There is another version of the song which you can see here. I particularly like the clap way at the end.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

In case you were wondering, that second verse is ‘Up a diamond in the sky’

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

Hokey Pokey

I particularly like how T says hokey pokey. Not so clear why the next verse calls for putting her head on the floor, but there you go.

Did you notice everyone of these ends in clapping? That is a critical feature of all Tovina songs.

Tovina was really getting into singing and then watching herself on the video, but it started to be a little difficult once she decided that she would rather watch herself than sing in front of the camera. You can see this battle play out below.

*As a side benefit of posting all these videos and labeling each one, I can now spell repertoire all by myself!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Changing the brakes

The latest Do-It-Yourself project in the house is replacing the rear brakes on the minivan. It has been less than a smooth experience even though Michael had done this before on a previous vehicle. The first day of this adventure Tovina and I went out to check on the progress.* T immediately picked up an old brake pad thereby coating her hands in gunk. Knowing how those hands would shortly be smearing dirt all over her clothes, we did the only logical thing and removed her shirt and pants.** I particularly like the final look with the purple shoes, turquoise socks, diaper, braids, and gem encrusted hair clips.

She spent a fair bit of time examining all the tools in the tool chest. She learned that a lot of them were 'No Touching!' but that the sockets were pretty safe. That led to removing almost all the sockets from the box and organizing them across the floor.
After that we had a rousing round of the 'clean up' song while Tovina put them all away.

*One of the things I have learned about having a small child is that it is no longer really possible for both adults to be engaged in a home DIY project as one must be responsible for making sure the wee one doesn't do anything detrimental to herself. This is probably an obvious observation to most people but it still sort of surprises me.

**What do you mean it would have been logical to take her inside away from the area and clean her up? That's just crazy talk.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Tree Down

Our next door neighbors had a VERY large dead tree removed from their yard today. 130 feet tall at least.
When Michael and Tovina heard the continuous heavy machinery being used somewhere in our vicinity they went to explore and saw what was going on.
It just so happens that we also have a fair amount of large dead trees and one of them happens to be hanging over the very same road as the one these fellows were already removing.

T's description of the what logically followed all these observations was this:
"Go up down up down. Cut tree. Fall down! Boom boom!"
She summed up the process rather well actually. The up down (and repeat) was the fellow in the bucket truck in case you were wondering.

We watched the entire proceedings of our tree's removal. It took about 30+ minutes and she never got bored - was really very impressed actually. She also liked how the trucks made beeping noises as they backed up. She makes a very similar noise (its great what you can teach your children) but had never before experienced that 'beep beep' in its natural environment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Big Bed (again)

We are trying out the big bed in Tovina's room again. We gave this a shot back in March but then went back to the crib after a few mishaps and a whole bunch of travel. She does not seem quite so excited this round. In fact, all last week when I gave her the choice of big or little bed, she chose little. Tonight Michael and she read stories in the big bed together. Then she had one book that she read out loud to herself as Michael told her goodnight.

This is a good thing as she can no longer stretch out in her crib - though that might be because it is only a pack-n-play and rather stunted in size.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hair Styles

Never cutting T's hair has finally paid off. That's right, our little one has enough hair for styles now! And the hair up front, the stuff that looks like bangs but is really the hair from the top of her head that still is trying its best to not grow? Well that stuff is now almost long enough to get past her eyebrows - very exciting.

Also exciting is that we can now do things with our no-longer-bald munchkin's hair. Pigtails are by far the favorite. I never before realized how rarely her head does not move in any given moment. Getting those suckers in is a exercise in patience.

Today though I tried something new - Braids!* We'll see if they make it to lunch time.

*Niki, Michael said something along the lines of, "They aren't up to Niki level, but that was still good."
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Boom boom

Two of the last 3 nights there has been booming thunder while Tovina is trying to go to sleep and for the first time, she seems to care.
a lot
'Boom boom Mommy!' she tells me.
I explained it was thunder and that it was a noise that came with the rain (she likes rain.)
Still seemed to be pretty unsettling stuff though.
'Cover eyes?'
Huh? Turned out she wanted to wear some sort of eye mask to deal with the noise. (Love toddler logic.) But I wasn't about to give her one of the many masks we have collected on planes because the various ties and straps that go around the head make me too nervous.
'How about a hat? We can pull it way down and cover your eyes.'
So an appropriate hat was found (spider frogs! more on that another time) and put on her head and she lay back down and went to sleep. Nothing more was thought of this.
Then last night it happened again.
'Boom Boom daddy! Hat!'
Who knew that the application of a hat solved thunderstorms so well?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Bye Natalie

Today was Natalie's last day with us before taking off on a fast plane tomorrow. As she is pretty much our first guest who was not family, she had this strange request to see the city. We've been trying to get in all the necessary tourist activities checked off. Unfortunately for her, I was her tour guide and know pretty much nothing about Cincinnati. Luckily we had a GPS and a car and a (mild) sense of adventure. Among our successes were UDF malts and the exploration of Old Town Milford which had some good restaurants and this really yummy cupcake restaurant that will require another tasting or 2 or maybe 3. Then tonight, after stuffing ourselves silly at the Montgomery Inn we went for a walk along the Ohio river and came across this small amphitheater. The leaves have started to change and it was very peaceful even with the chasing of the squirrels.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009


One of the unexpected joys of having Natalie visit is that she actually wants to see Cincinnati. While it is shocking that there is anyone who doesn't just want to spend the entire day basking in the glow known as Tovina it has been much fun to actually look around the city. We've been down to Fountain Square downtown Cincinnati and explored the main street of downtown Milford which I have driven through many many times and never managed to stop in. We've eaten some yummy food and checked out some little stores. Its been very educational. Who would have guessed that all of that was so close by?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


We're still a household of unfortunate illness. What makes this timing particularly amusing is that we have a friend (who we met in China but now lives in the US) visiting. We have apologized for inviting her into our house of plague, but it is really too late to change anything so she is dealing - and with a smile which is really more than I could hope for.

Actually, even more than a smile, Natalie is cooking with us :)

Last night we had matzoh ball soup (in honor of the general level of malaise) and tonight we made peanut, sesame and spicy noodles with chicken and a side salad of cabbage and bean sprouts. Was quite yummy. Even Tovina liked it the 1st time she tasted it.