Beneath this bowl of stars...

toddler activites, food, photos, and other orbital occurrences

I am going dark for a few days, b/c I will not have a computer. I should get it back on Saturday.

today for our mess, Amber ate her yogurt with her hands. She loved it!

This afternoon I was in the kitchen and I hear Amber screaming something from her reading room. I walk in and she is sitting there with her NaiNai reading a library book. The same library book that I had read to her for the first time this morning. Usually when Amber and NaiNai read, Amber is the one who does the reading. She picks books that I read to her and clings to one or two main themes. For example, one book is about a bear and a ladybug who have a flower that needs sunlight. They go around asking all the animals if they know where the sun lives and all the animals tell them "no, but...." so when amber reads it, she says "no, no, NO" and points her finger and says the name of the animal along with some babble. It is quite cute.

The book Amber was reading today was about a girl named Stella and her brother Sam who go looking for fairies. Amber was screaming "STELLA... STELLA... STELLA" on each page and pointing out her hair and saying "head". It's truly amazing how she picked up on that and remembered it after one reading several hours later.

Here is the book, you can
it on amazon.

One of Amber's first words was 'uh-oh' and another was 'open this'. Over the last few months she has said them all the time and with various meanings. My favorite use of 'uh-oh' is every night as I put on her pajamas, her hand gets a little stuck and she says 'uh-oh'... it never fails... every night. The funniest use of 'open this' might be for her wanting a beer (obviously i didnt open it). Lately as her vocabulary has been expanding like the big bang, she has progressed into using other words to convey her need for my assistance. Once common uses for uh-oh have become '____ oh ____' fill in the blank with anything; 'water oh water', 'baby oh baby', 'cheese oh cheese', 'dada oh dada' all of these usually occurring when the item in the blank falls or is dropped ('dada oh dada' was in reference to dave's picture which she likes to carry around when we are in oklahoma). Open this is has transformed into 'help' and 'fix it' both of which are usually followed by 'mama'. For a toddler, the need to tell those who care for them that something is not right and needs assistance is a common necessity, a good friend of mine has a similar recent post.

This is my 100th post! (it might not actually be 100 in the order b/c I still have china posts that i want to go back and complete).

We have some of those really handy cabinet locks that you stick on and then open with the magnet key. I love the ease and non-permanence of them, but they are not the best idea to have at least in the same room in which you keep your laptop.

Last week Amber got a hold of the magnet key, I think b/c we had discovered that our granite was magnetic and we were having fun sticking the magnet to the granite, rather than on the fridge. She likes to climb up on the kitchen chairs to get to the table, the table where our laptops usually live. She then of course wants to play on the computer (she knows which one is mine and which is dada's and will tell you when you are using the wrong one). Well, this time she placed the magnet nicely onto the wrist rest of the computer, or maybe the magnet was just drawn to that spot. I instantly thought, oops, thats probably not good, and I pulled it away and just forgot about it. The next day I had to reboot, but my computer thought otherwise.

When we dropped it off, Apple said that it was the logic board and that the hard drive was fine. Whew i thought, since i had not yet backed up all the china photos. They called me on thursday to tell me that it was also the hard drive and they were trying to recover my data. On a second call when they told me it didnt work, I sadly told them all I wanted was the photos and they happily called back later stating that they do not normally just transfer some files, they only do a full image, but they would make an exception and try and in the end, they were successful... so I have all my photos!!!

I probably won't be able to pick it up until next weekend, so a whole week without any computer :-( but when I get it back, it will have a new screen, hinge, top outer case, trackpad, buttons, power cord jack and pannel around it, logic board and hard drive! All for free since it was in the last week before my warranty ran out!

So the moral of the story is: don't play with magnets around laptops, and if you must, be sure you have a backup and do it before your warranty runs out.

While my mom was here, she was working with Amber on things like 'please' and 'thank you'.

Amber has already been great at "bless you" she says it to anyone and everyone anytime she thinks they sneeze, which can be after real sneezes, coughs, laughs, or just some noise. Its very cute and been going on since she was about a year. For about the last 2 months Amber will say 'please' sometimes on her own, sometimes when you say "what do you say?" and sometimes when she doesn't get what she wants, then she will resort to please, and of course when a tiny little girl says please, you can't really resist, even if you were not planning on cooperating. Well, my mom would say to her, "what's the magic word?" to get her to say please. One time (i forget what she was asking for), she asked for something, we didnt give it, then she said "please.... (pause) its the magic word" it was really funny.

Amber has also from time to time said 'Thank you', but she is very good at XieXie (thank you in chinese). When we were in china she would say it to waiters when they brought us things at the table and everyone ate it up. With both 'thank you' and 'xiexie' she will now often do it on her own, or right after you say it, which can be really funny.

Sorry has become her word for when she knows she has upset you or hurt you (or a doll). Sometimes she has to be told that someone is sad or hurt, but other times she knows and she will both say "sorry, ____" (fill in the blank of who it is she is talking to, mama, grammy, emma, baby, monkey) and give them a pat on the shoulder and sometimes a hug. (Hugs are one of her new favorites, she will go around asking people/dolls/dogs for a hug).

This morning as we were leaving the bedroom, Emma was sorta blocking the doorway, as Amber stepped around Emma and went through the door, she said "Excuse me, Emma". Maybe mom and Amber worked on more than just please and thank you, or maybe I have a future Miss Manners on my hands.

I've been quiet this week since my laptop is being fixed.... so still no pictures, but here are amber's favorites for the week:

Food: toast (raisin with butter)
Word: funny - she likes to go around telling me or Grammy that we are funny, and some times "so funny". Emma is also sometimes funny as well as her animals and dolls.
Toy: Slide - Grammy sent up Amber's slide from Oklahoma. Its out in the yard and every time we are coming or going we have to slide. She looks out the living room window when in her chair and sees the slide and then wants to go.
Action: Dancing - Amber sure had a lot of energy this week. Grammy always laughing got her revved up and ready to play, at times she would just start dancing and singing around. She has a cute little bounce in her step when she dances.
Song: Toss up with Itsy Bitsy (which she asks for with her fingers and tries to do it with you, her favorite part is the sun with fingers on your face) and Obwisanasana which she sings in the car.

Amber finally says her own name! It was one of the only words that she has never said, but in the past 2-3 days she has started saying it!!

so my laptop is not working :-( we are dropping it off at the apple store tomorrow in hopes that they can fix it. From out command prompt searching it seems that the HD is fine, so I dont think I have lost anything, but it just will not boot for some reason.

Luckily my mom arrives tomorrow with her laptop, so I will not be computerless for a week :-)

no pictures today...

food: quaker granola bar that she took from my bag and opened herself!
words: buddha and rainbow (rhino) - she learned both of these on our trip and uses them both many times a day. She does know what they are, b/c when i draw a rainbow or we see a buddha (at the flea market there was a guy selling buddhas and he said she was the youngest person he had ever heard say buddha) she goes nuts, so i think she says them all day b/c she likes them and wants to see them.
action: hugs - she now asks for hugs all the time
song: "see the pony galloping" from music together - she likes this song so much that when she rides her rocking horse she says to me "song, song" and wont rock until i start singing it
toy: free deck chair we got at the swap shop at the dump - she carries it all over the deck

We played with the ball for a bit this evening. You cant really tell from these pics, but Amber has mastered rolling, spinning, kicking and throwing the ball :-) (she can do them all on command too, which means that if we still lived in nyc she would have a good chance at getting into a good pre-school :-) )
while on the deck, she also had a spinning in circles laughing fest with the towel

seriously, are there babies/kids out there that actually fit in most clothes at the age on the label? I really think that someone in china just grabs whatever label they have in front of them for the batch they happen to be making. At 3 months amber wore a 12mo onesie that was really small and another 0-3 that was huge. Take a look at this photo taken today at 19.5mo, she is wearing a 24mo top and 3mo pants! I guess the shirt is a little big, and the pants are now perfect capris, but she has a similar outfit which does happen to be labeled 18mo which fits her exactly the same.

Emma really is the best dog.... she puts up with everything. Amber in her lap, riding her like a horse, poking her in the eye, taking away her food... and giving it back again, hugs and kisses and escorts in/out of the house.

I should probably save this for Friday Favorites, but I just cant... Amber's new favorite food is corn on the cob! she loves biting it off :-)

this is a new category i am starting b/c amber currently loves to take pictures with the mini digital and she often takes them of herself... so as long as this lasts, I am going to post her pics.

ok ok, not all that messy, but we are still adjusting to EST :-)

no no we have not up and moved to a farm.... no Dave's parents just arrived this weekend with their latest shipment of baby chicks. Yes, that right... a couple times a year Dave's dad will order 2dozen eggs that hatch into chicks during the shipment. He has ordered ducks, quail, geese, chickens, and other poultry. They arrived last week and are tiny little chicks that need attention and care, so they could not be left at home for the weekend yet.... so they loaded them in the car and brought them to Wellfleet. Amber of course loved this. By the end of the weekend she had learned how to feed them and pet them without getting pecked.

Amber's new easel arrived the day before we left for shanghai so we have not really had a chance to post about it. Amber has painted several times, and used the chalk board lots. At first she only did vertical strokes, but you can see here that she is beginning to explore other directions :-)

Amber helped daddy peel his peach. She then helped him to eat all but one bite, which she kindly left for him.

After and an hour in the kiddie pool on the deck yesterday, I have determined that Amber is destined to become a diver. She would climb into the pool and then instantly get out and do it again. This occurred at least 291 times. I think it can only mean that she was practicing her dives. She was very unhappy that I would not allow her to dunk her clean diaper in the pool.

I am still 16 posts behind in my china posts! but I dont want to get too far behind with current posts.

One of Amber's favorite words is bicycle. She loved Shanghai b/c there were bicycles and motorcycles everywhere, and to her they are all bicycles. Sometimes she would spend 20 min just pointing all of them out. I started saying "bicycle bicycle, where is my tricycle" whenever she was on her bicycle, bicycle, bicycle... rant. Then when we got home I decided it was time to get her a tricycle. It arrived today! We chose the Kettler one which is made in Germany. It's basically the Porsche of tricycles... those German's really know how to make vehicles :-)

so when you go to bed at 2, after just having a beer and you are woken up at 4:45 by a laughing kid who it jumping on your tummy neighing (wanting you to play horsey) and screaming something about rhinos, and you finally roll out of bed just after 5, does that mean its time for coffee? We are not doing as well adjusting to the time difference as we did on the way there. I think it has something to do with the excitement of a new place and not wanting to waste time sleeping and being home and the pressure to get back on schedule. We got here Tuesday night just before midnight. Amber had slept in the car just under 2 hrs. Prior to that she slept maybe a total of 4 or 5 hrs on the plane. We decided to all stay up for a couple hrs to get her tried. We went to bed around 2 and she woke me up at 5:30. Dave stayed in bed b/c, well he had to work. by 10am Amber was done, but I was unable to get her to sleep until 11:30. I finally fell asleep around 12:30, even though I was exhausted and almost fell asleep pushing her in the stroller. At 3, I woke up and decided that although we could probably both sleep at least another 4hrs, we should get up. Amber took about 1.5hrs to fully wake up, she was not at all pleased that I decided it was daytime. Just before 6, i was done again. I had full intention of both of us getting up at 8 and going down again at 11. But when Amber was still sleeping soundly at 9, I decided i woudl rather her get as much rest as possible so that if i had to be up with her she would at least be somewhat agreeable. Around 10 she started waking up, but I managed to get her to keep sleeping until Midnight. (meanwhile dave went to bed at 7:30). At 2 we decided to go to bed again. By 2:40 she passed out. 2 hrs later, she's ready to go.

Which brings us back to the rhinos. As yes, I taught her about rainbows on our trip b/c we saw 2. The last one was out the rainy plane window. Well I guess she either got confused or thinks that whenever there is rain on the window there might be a rainbow. So she was saying rainbow and pointing to the window.

She also learned about sleep. She can tell you when you are sleeping, and when she wants to sleep, but by that time, you are no longer asleep and she was really just kidding about herself... but I hope that this is a first step to truly understanding what it means to be sleep time. (she says mama sleep, dada sleep).

Another cute thing... yesterday she really wanted to go to the beach... somehow she remembers that we go to the beach here, b/c at one point she walked to the car screaming beach beach beach and turned around stomping her feet and saying beach and pointing... but i didnt have the energy to even drive there.

so we made it home again. I have many many posts to catch up on... oh and speaking of that, I have been posting out of order for this trip, so once i am finished you might want to go back to around June 25th and scroll through all my posts to make sure you didnt miss anything. The flight was long. Longer than the way there. At 5.5 hrs into the first one, I thought I might not make it (at least without going totally insane). Amber was wide awake b/c it was about 4:30pm according to her internal clock. Dave was fast asleep, and they had the cabin all dark like you were supposed to be sleeping. I cant figure out who from what country to what country would need to sleep on that flight. Shanghai to Paris from 11am Shanghai time to 5pm Paris time, 13hr flight, other then sleeping for boredom, there really is no need to sleep. This brings me to my complaints about our never to be flown again French airline. First off, they are the french I suppose, but airline food is airline food, so no matter how much better their wine, cheese or cuisine might be, it still tastes like crap at 35000 feet. Dave and I have flown our share of international flights in business class, so i guess i have some level of expectations. I had been looking forward to my warm nuts and cocktail when we were boarding back on June 23 for weeks, but no. Not on our french airline. They dont even give you anything to drink until taxi time, at which point they come by with chamapagne or OJ in a tiny little shot glass. On other airlines they serve business class one by one, no carts. But on this airline, you have to wait for the cart, for drinks and food. Did I mention that they are french? And whats the one thing we all know about the french? Yes, they are rude, and rude these flight attendants were, especially to us and Amber, treating her like a second class citizen, that is until they finally figured out that we have paid for the seat she was sitting in and she was in fact entitled to the chicken entree we requested for her. (initially we were told that she could only have the chicken at the end if there was a chicken left over). On the way there we were told various things about our car seat. Everything from, it wont fit in the seat so it must be checked, to she cant sit in the seat with out it, to how they were accomidating our need for a seat by allowing it.... On the way home, we checked the seat, and as much as I hate to admit it, Dave was right. The flight was much better without the seat. Yes, Amber was still climing all over me and her seat like a jungle gym, but she loved sitting like a big girl and even slept for a while on the second flight in her 180degree bed. Also we didnt have to deal with hauling it around the airport and going through security twice (since you have to go back through in Paris). We purchased the GoGoBabyz wheel attachment on our way to the airport before we left, but i have to say it was not at all worth it. Not to hard to put on, but it requires about 10min of screwing so when you are trying to get settled in your seat, or trying to get off the plain, it is very annoying.... and depending who your secruity person is, they may or may not ask you to remove it at the xray. From now on, we check the seat. I also realized that this age is possibly the most difficult for flying. Too old to just sleep for most of the time and to be cute to all the other passengers. But too young to really be able to watch cartoons or color or do other games/activities that take more than 5 min. At 5.5 hrs, when we had handled every toy in our bag, they were playing the same cartoons as on the way there, and no food or sleep was in sight, I was stressed. Oh yeah, back to my comments.... we were STARVING on the way back. They fed us right as we got on and right as we got off, but not in the middle, so thats like 10hrs without food! they had ice cream and these disgusting cheese filled cracker things. They also only had Heinekin for beer and ran out 7hrs into the flight! They never offered Amber a heated towl but did have toys for her on these flights (must have just started July 1). I was able to get 3 movies in, even though it meant ignoring amber or watching with her in my lap... but that makes me happy... and now that i think about the first movie i watched, it seems like it was last week, when really it was this morning. Oh and it was so weird that we had 25hrs of daylight, as we were landing in boston and my watch said 8:45, it felt like 8:45 am, even though i had not yet seen dark and even though the sun was setting and it was 8:45pm. Oh and I never finished from before..... on the 13hr flight, they closed all the shades to make us sleep, only so that they coudl be lazy and not have to attend to us. They also turned up the heat b/c we were all sweaty, i guess they thought it would help us sleep, little do they know, i need it to be freezing to sleep.

Dave learned as we landed that he has to go back next week. He is going to travel with the Swiss, see how they are. He just weighted himself... he lost 8lbs! I gained 6. I dont really see how. I ate very little and he stuffed himself like a pig! I blame MSG for water weight for me... he's just a freak of nature.

Shanghai really is a huge place. When Dave visited back in February he said that it makes NYC look like a tiny village. I just could not imagine this. But I can clearly see it now. If you took all the boroughs of New York and built all the buildings up about 30 stories then maybe they would be comparable cities. NYC has the uniqueness of having so many tall buildings right next to one another. In Shanghai, so far, space has been left, so when you look at a small section NY seems greater, but Shanghai has far far more tall buildings, but since they do not touch one another, they dont look as tall.

Amber really learned how to use cards on this trip. In addition to her previous knowledge of credit cards, she now insists on being the one to open the hotel door and activate the elevator! (it was actually a little annoying b/c sometimes she would have the card backwards and refuse to let you help her rotate it).

Most women in Shanghai use an umbrella every day. (at least in the summer). When it's raining just about everyone uses a cheap version of the tall cane umbrellas rather than the black folding type that you see all over NYC. On sunny days, the women (and some men) carry folding sunbrellas. They have beads and sequins and are usually pastel colors with silver UV backing. The main reason for this is that having a tan is looked down upon b/c the poor who work outside in the fields have a tan.... so the more affluent you are, the paler you want you skin to be. On a really hot and sunny day no one wears sleeveless shirts, in fact you see some women with a sweater over their short sleeves, and they all carry a sunbrella. At first I just found this odd, but as the heat progressed I realized that it was also for shade... and at less than $1 an umbrella, I came close to getting one. I wonder why this trend has never caught on in NYC? If you look close at this picture you can see a woman with an umbrella in front of the newsstand. I wanted to get a better one, but I just never did.

just some nice photos from our hotel of the lights of shanghai at night

Amber acquired 3 pairs of new shoes on this trip. The first I got her at a fake market b/c she is about to outgrow her sandals, these were really soft and real leather, and only $7.13!!! The next we got in the water town from a little old lady who made them. You can see shoes and shoe parts in this picture. She was doing embroidery when we arrived. These were only $2.80. Her final pair are some hot pink fake Crocs. They crack me up b/c they even have the real url printed on the shoes :-) She loves them the most b/c she can put them on all by herself really easily. She is very close to getting the sandals on herself, but it takes a while. The crocks were $3.50. Good thing we got them b/c when we went to music class yesterday all 5 of the other kids (age 8mo - 3yrs) all had some variety of crocs or croclike shoes... she would have been really left out :-)

here are a couple more gems in the translated english category:"No burning enter" was posted outside some of the rooms containing buddhas in one of the temples. I assume that it means do not enter with burning incense, or once you enter you cannot burn anything.
"assorted stuff in a barrel" was on a menu along with "stir-fried assorted stuff with soy sauce". ALso notice the bullfrog entree.

We were starting to run out of things to see and do in Shanghai mostly b/c everything left required walking and viewing outside and lots of brainpower to appreciate things. I read in my book and on some blogs about recommended things to see and each thing i read told me to go to a street called TaiKang and walk up and down and check out the shops, galleries and cafes and be sure to go down alley number 210. Our driver thought we were nuts for wanting to go to this little street. (first let me state that so far our driver does not seem to know any of the sights in Shanghai or how to really get around, next he took us to the wrong street!) Both Dave and the driver thought out stop would be a short one... that we would be let out on one end of the street and 10-15 min later we would call the driver from the other end to come get us. Luckily I was right again! We found a travellers heaven. A maze of twists and turns of tiny little alleys all with shops, galleries bars and cafes redone inside to appeal to westerners (with prices to match). It was very much like soho in NYC only on a mini scale, with cobblestone at your feet. If it had not been so hot, and if we didnt have the stroller we would have explored each establishment to the fullest and taken many more pics.

today was the day of temples.
we started out planning to see 4, but due to the insane heat, we only made it through 2. Lots of buddhas, lots of praying, lots of incense. The first was the temple of the Jade Buddha. You had to pay to enter and then pay again to actually see the Jade Buddha, which was housed inside this room that didnt look much like a temple. It was nice, but photos were not allowed. This guy was paintin these incredible landscapes all with his hand.... basically advanced fingerpainting! He claims that he is one of only 5 people in all of china who can do this. All of them from the same family, and only his family has ever done this. We find that hard to believe, but it was still amazing. We bought one.

The next temple was the Jing'an Temple. Its right on the big shopping street, very close to our first hotel. The neat thing about it, is that all around it are huge skyscrapers and bustling modern life. So to be inside and see the contrast is quite interesting. Dave thought the monk on the cell phone with the latte was hilarious.