Beneath this bowl of stars...

toddler activites, food, photos, and other orbital occurrences

Scallop Stuffed Mushrooms


Fresh scallops, garlic, ginger, scallions, salt, soy, bread crumbs and parma inside a portabello


Dave's lamb kebobs (getting better every time)


Garden radishes (just about the only thing coming from our garden this year)


Amber's response.... "I want more" ... To bad we have a light crop this year and this is the only one for a few more days.

With the sad news of MJ I decided we needed to watch some YouTube so I first went for thriller, not having watched it in like 20 years, I forgot that it was scary..... Six min. Into it I had to stop, Amber didn't like it,.,,,, same with Beat It , so much violence. We are the world, on the other hand, pure family entertainment. If WATW was being recorded today, I wonder who the lead voices would be?

This post is a test of my iPhone blogger tool.

Today was a very rainy Monday, made worse by the fact that we have had non-stop rain (aside from like 3hrs on Saturday) for as long as anyone can remember. By late afternoon I somehow mustered up enough motivation to paint the wall that has been waiting to be painted for 2 years.

I started by letting Amber have her turn at painting...

It actually ended up not being very messy at all, but it sure had the potential to be!

This morning while we were eating breakfast, Amber exclaims: "Look Mommy, there's a Chicken Monkey eating the birdseed!!" It took me a second, but then I realized that a Chicken Monkey is a chipmunk :-)

Recently bedtime has been a breeze.... as long as I follow the routine, carefully laid out by Amber. Around two weeks have passed since our last crying episode which resulted in a new step in the routine. Today I was just thinking how nice it was to just be able to get her to bed without all the stress and tears (starting the whole process each night is another story). Tonight as I am walking up the stairs after closing her door, I hear the dreaded wails from her room. I waited for a few min, but decided to go talk to her rather than risking that she get out of bed to come to me. I stood at the door and told her that we are not playing games and it was time for bed. She then said "Mommy, you have push the green button and text message Aaron!" I said, "What?" "you have to text message Erin". "Who's Aaron?" "You have to say I love you". "Uh, Ok, to Erin?" "Yes" ... "Is Aaron your imaginary friend?" "uh-huh". After I agreed, she let me leave and went to bed. ... tomorrow night, I had better not forget to promise to text Erin on my way out of the room!

so not only is Amber an actual world traveler, but her play is beginning to globe trot.

Multiple times today Amber mentioned something about having to go away to Beijing tomorrow.... often for (insert number) of weeks. One time, I decided to ask some questions, and this is how it went:

Amber: "I have to go away really quick... to Beijing tomorrow"
Me: Oh really... how are you going to get there?
Amber: On the plane.
Me: Wow, that's a really long flight, what are you going to do all by yourself for so long?
Amber: Play with toys.
Me: And how are you going to get to the airport tomorrow?
Amber: um, in the car.
Me: How are you going to get there in the car?
Amber: I'm going to drive....
Me: And how are you going to drive? The peddles are so far from your feet?
Amber: with the key! (as she holds up the old front door key on the key ring that she happens to be playing with)
Me: And once the plane lands, how will you get to Beijing?
Amber: I'm going to walk, with my feet.
Me: And then what?
Amber: And then i have to go to Munich.
Me: And what's in Munich?
Amber: My house!
Me: really? I didn't know you had a house in Munich, how long will you stay there?
Amber: 30 weeks
Me: that's a very long time, do you know anyone in Munich
Amber: Well NaiNai YehYeh are in Beijing and then I have to go back to Beijing.
Me: oh yeah why?
Amber: I have to go to NaiNai and YehYeh's apartment.
Me: How long will you be in Beijing?
Amber: 3 minutes!
Me: Oh that's not long, do you have to just pick something up from the apartment?
Amber: Yeah, I have to get the mail.

after that i just could not stop laughing any more :-)

another awesome word from today was "Ponycorn" meaning unicorn

This week my friend Jen and her son Nathan who is a couple months older than Amber are visiting us at the cape. Tonight is the first night Amber has slept in the same bed for more than 5 nights in a month. Most of the nights and sometimes lunches in this month have been out at restaurants. Amber has been in heaven having Nathan here to play with her all day, BUT after not playing with kids much at all for 7 months, it is a bit overwhelming. Also, not having cottage cheese on a regular basis for 7 months was far too much for her.... Since we have been back at the cape (5 days now) Amber has eaten 3 containers of cottage cheese and could have easily polished off 3 or 4 more. Tonight at dinner Amber not only refused to eat what we were having, but she asked for cottage cheese at least 100 times. After bath I was doing the dishes and she asked again, I told her she needed to stop asking and she was welcome to have some of our dinner if she was hungry. She sat down at her little table and I handed her her plate. I turned around to do dishes and i hear a crash... she tossed the breakable dish onto the floor. Straight to her room she went, while I cleaned up the mess. After vacuuming to screams, I got her out and she wanted milk. She sat down at her table while I was getting the milk and said "I want a menu please". While cracking up with laughter I asked her why she wanted a menu and she said "I want to order cottage cheese".

Poor kid. She thinks you can just order whatever you want and you can have it... she sure has a lot of hard lessons to learn.

Later as we were brushing teeth, I was telling her about our pre-school interview/meeting tomorrow. In the meeting she will be taken into the "big playroom" with all the other kids and teachers and I have to stay with the admissions director. She used to be ok with this (been talking about it for a while), but today she is not... says that she wants to stay with me. So I cleverly told her that the principal lady i have to stay with in her office, is mean, so she would have a much better time going into the playroom. (similar to how i tell her that a chocolate bar is really spicy so she would not like it). As I am tucking her in she asks "where's the mean lady office?"

Poor mom, I sure am going to be in for it tomorrow when we meet the director and Amber asks "Are you the mean lady?"

The last several nights, Amber has been waking up not too long after going to bed.... she has also been begging me not to close her door all the way. Up until now, she would wake up around midnight if we had not come to get her and bring her to bed with us (which usually happens between 12-2, we stay up late). When she wakes, she would just lie in bed crying and either we would come to her, or in about 2 min she would fall back asleep. Well, now that she knew the door was open, she was coming out and looking for me. Also, we could not have her crying at all in bed b/c Dave's parents are here and it wakes them up. So last night as I was putting her to bed, I explained to her that she could not get up and come look for me and she could not wake up and cry, that she must wait for daddy to come get her... and that daddy always comes, and she knows that, so she must wait for him. Around 1:30, we had not heard a peep from her, so when we were ready for bed, Dave went to get her, as he carried her she pat him on the back and hugged him and about a min he put her down on the bed, she blurts out (we thought she passed right back out the second he put her down) "I waited for daddy!" It was really really cute.

Last week a friend of ours gave Amber the Dr. Seuss book "Green Eggs and Ham" and it has become and ongoing dialog in our house. It of course started with Amber asking to have the book read again and again. Then she started reading it, (or turning the pages and saying "sam I am", "i am sam", etc.) Then one morning I made her some eggs and put some pepper in them (b/c i was having some too) and told her we were having green eggs. She ate most of them and then got a bite that had too much pepper and started saying "i do not like green eggs and ham" and meant it! Poor kid, I took advantage of her imagination by adding the pepper. Today she sat down with another book and started reading it, only she was reciting the words to "green eggs and ham" not the book she was pretending to read :-) She did this about 5 times, reading to me and to daddy and sometimes the end would have things from the book she was holding and not green eggs and ham. I got a couple of cute videos that I will probably never get around to posting, but they do exist. We have also been reciting parts of the book as we walk down the street, see someone eating eggs, meet someone named sam, when it turns dark, when we ride on the train, when we see a house, when we are in the car, or in the rain, or on a boat, or pass a tree,....

Amber and I made Valentine's cookies today. I am not posting a picture b/c the cookies that come out of betty crocker bag of mix and powder sugar and milk icing are just not that attractive regardless if made by a 2yr old or adult. We also didn't have anything to decorate on top of the icing and we only had a snowman and a tiny flower cookie cutter.... i ended up using a cup to make some circles (or as Amber calls them, circle moons). Amber had a great time cutting and liked to cut on top of the ones she just cut, and then would pick up left over dough and put it on the cookie sheet. When it was time to ice, the lack of a good nap started to kick in... she became a cookie monster... literally, she could not stop eating the cookies. I kept saying no, and explaining that we had to ice them first and we needed to wait for daddy, but she just kept putting them in her mouth (lots of them were not much bigger than a quarter from the flower cutter), then twice I was icing one and she leaned over and took a bite! then she would see the look on my face (i was totally over exaggerating too to make it worse) and she gave me a look that basically said she could not control her self. It was sad and hilarious at the same time. Eventually I had to move the cookies and then spent the next 10 min trying to get her to stop crying for cookies... poor little one, from now on, things like making cookies will only occur before lunch.

There are fireworks stands everywhere! Today we went and bought some medium sized ones and shot some off tonight. (we had already bought sparklers, which are not really sparklers but more like a 'fountain' that you hold, not for kids in my opinion.. box of 200 was less than $3). For around $3 we got one that shot about 20 nice little flowers up about 10 stories in the air (fireworks are sold by the height that they go, so I guess the ones hitting my window last night were more than $3 since we are on the 16th floor). We have another one that weighs more than amber on the back balcony for tomorrow night, Dave didnt tell me how high it goes, but it was $30!!!

None of these photos were zoomed in, these fireworks were happening right outside and right at eye level. Also, the fireworks went on like this for at least an hour and then slowed down in pace but are still going on now over 24hrs later.

you don't want to open your windows!

A couple weeks ago we went for a walk around our neighborhood and saw lots and lots of eel, duck and duck parts hanging out everywhere drying. I have heard/read that since Shanghai has such a dry winter and all of the markets are closed for the week of Chinese new year, everyone stocks up on dried fish and duck products to eat throughout the week. It is now 2 weeks later (CNY is just now beginning) and its all sold out... streets and streets that look like the one below were filled with eel and duck and are now all back to normal, it really amazes me.

We have been making lots of martinis lately. Dave got on a Lychee martini kick but I wanted variety, so every time we have them he creates a new one for me. Golden Eye -- Vodka, triple sec, OJ
Dave's Jade -- Vodka, blue curacao, triple sec, peach juice
Tiffany -- Vodka, blue curacao, coconut milk, peach juice
The Watson -- Vodka, triple sec, blue curacao and peach juice (named after Watson's pharmacy since it is the same color as the bag)

Recently I have been buying interesting looking snacks in the supermarket just to see what they are. Here are a few:These sausages are not at all weird, they are actually imported, but what is weird or crazy is the price, they cost nearly $20! ($115rmb)
These cheerios might look normal at first glance, but if you look closely you will first see that in addition to the chinese characters on the box, they are made by Nestle. I opened the box and popped a couple in my mouth expecting them to taste just like the ones I had last summer, but was I wrong! They tasted like rice crackers that were dipped in sweet syrup. Same colors as the ones in the US, but taste nothing like them. I guess that is why this box was 24rmb and the imported ones are 88rmb.
This next item, also from Nestle, is supposed to be cream for your coffee... sweetened condensed milk in a tube with strawberry flavoring. They also suggest using it for fruit salad, its a little strange... i still pay 45rmb for my coffeemate liquid creamer.
This sushi came individually wrapped! They had a whole selection and you picked the ones you wanted and then packaged them up and put in the condiments.The cookies on the left were little animal cookies but they were sesame, so just like those sesame sticks in snack mixes. The ones on the right were little cocoa bears, nothing like chocolate teddy grams though.
On the left are chocolate dipped corn curls. For some reason corn crunchy things are really popular and come in many flavors including strawberry and shrimp. My favorite is actually the caramel that is part of the actual corn crisp and not just a dip. On the right are some little cookies with a smiling guy on them. They had a weirdly addictive flavor, almost like coconut.
The cookies on the left were my favorite as far as the package goes.... it looks like french fries drinking wine! They were actually little animal crackers shaped like little sticks or fingers, not bad. On the right are Snoopy chips... kinda like pringles, but not as good. They came in about 6 flavors, I got "Latin FLavor" but it didnt really taste latin at all, just weird.

Today Amber and I went out to lunch with another mama and her two kids who are 5 and 3. These were the first kids that Amber has spent this long with who talk and speak English since she has been a full out talker herself. It was so cute to watch or really listen to her playing with them and the things they talked about. She told them how her daddy takes a taxi to work, to the bank! And that she wants to be a butterfly (we were butterflies at Gymboree this morning), and that there are fireworks everywhere. She also mentioned several times that she wanted to go home.... but she really had every reason for wanting this... see we had quite an adventure. I met the mom from my email list and she offered to come all the way to pick us up go to lunch at a place back near where she lives and drop us off! She said its a 10-15min car ride. I was skeptical b/c I thought I had been to that part of town before and it took more like 45min-1hr. She arrived a bit late, but it was raining. I was very impressed that she drives herself around in Shanghai, i have a hard time walking much less riding a bike or driving. Dave even says there is no way he would drive in China.... so i was very impressed that she drives herself and her 2 kids around. I felt much much safer than in a taxi, but it is really all of the other people that you have to be scared of. 45min into our short drive, we got side swiped by a van. It really was not bad, we had slowed to a stop and they really only hit the mirror. We took photos of the license plate but then at the next stop light she put the car in park, hopped out and banged on their window. This was in the middle of probably the worst traffic street in shanghai. I was now even more impressed. Not only does she drive, she hops out and yells in mandarin to a van full of men in the middle of 1000s of cars honking at us with her 2 kids in the car. Lots of hand waving, head shaking, cell phone pictures and pacing later, she returns to tell me that they are calling the police, the other car refuses taking responsibility. We have to hail down a taxi to ask the number of the police. When the police arrive, the guy is laughing hysterically. He looked like a big teddy bear on a bike. After more hand waving, head shaking and laughing, the driver of the van pulls out 100rmb (around $14) and everyone smiles laughs and says goodbye. We totally made the cops day... he now has a great story to tell tonight to his friends, about a blond American woman who yelled at a van full of guys for only 100rmb. After that we made it to lunch, but on the way home, my new friend realized she was not going to make it to drop her parents off at the train, so i got out and took the subway home. She's picking me up again tomorrow, this time we are going to a big mall, all b/c she has our car seat, and to get it back, we may as well go on another adventure! Amber is very excited to see her friends again.