Thursday, January 30, 2014

Learning about: Chinese New Year 3

Spring couplets
We decorated, and checked off everything on Moira's list, and threw a party for our friends on the first day of the Lunar New Year. I'm very glad to have found a group that is so energetic and excited to do this together. We all share ideas and resources, and most of the kids have known each other since they were babies, so they are familiar with each other and work well to get along together. We also have a lot of people in the group who have food allergies, and because food is one of the ways I show love, I'm very glad that we all do our best to make sure that the food we share is as safe for everyone present as possible.

Making a horse
Photo creditJennifer. One of our attendees tried to find little lanterns for the kids to decorate, but when that failed, we decided to make totally non traditional cork horses (Walker has been saving his corks for 4 years). The kids enjoyed using the glue guns and picking their trims out. Only one adult got hurt, so I'm calling it a success. Every kid made at least one horse, and almost everyone managed to take their finished horses home.

We also made paper dragon puppets. I tried to offer a selection of options for the center of the body, but Moira was the only person who didn't follow the instructions printed on the paper templates. Most of the kids spent quite a while on this one, even the kid who never wants to do the crafts.

Tray of Togetherness
I almost forgot to pull the Tray of Togetherness out. Moira reminded me, and it started a second round of eating for everyone. The candied coconut, melon, lotus nuts, and carrots were big hits. The ginger was declared too spicy.

Party poppers!
Then we went outside for our dragon parade. We ended up doing out parade in two sections, because the kids couldn't dance their dragons and make the noise to scare the dragons away at the same time. First we made a bunch of noise by stomping on the bubble mailers from Amazon packages, and popping some party poppers. I was worried that I had bought too many (144). You can all laugh at me for that.

Dragon parade
Stephanie brought a drum from home, so she lead the parade around our yard. The kids didn't want to stop, but had to eventually because it was time for everyone to head home.

Our family is planning to go to the International District's parade this weekend. Both the kids are really looking forward to it.

Part 1, part 2

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Week 4

Occasionally Walker plays Beatles Rock Band with the kids. Usually Davis drums and Moira sings, but this day Davis wanted to sing too. The managed a 99% on a duet of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds."

Post nap snuggles
Davis is only napping half the time, and I usually try to keep him awake, because otherwise bedtime takes a long time. When he does have a nap, he'd prefer to nap for a couple of hours, so I almost always wake him up. He's starting to just go back to sleep on me while I talk to him and try to bribe him awake, so we have lots of snuggles.

Hi Mom!
It was my turn to watch Lauren's kids, and like a crazy person, I decided that it would be a good idea to meet them at Chuck E Cheese. The kids had fun, it wasn't too bad for me, and due to random traffic issues, the kids and I ended up there too early so I got coffee and we ran some errands, where they kids got to sit in the super exciting fire truck cart.

Also linked up at Hobo Mama and NPN.


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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

OMG everyone!

People are always talking about how much Moira looks like me, which is true. But look what I just found.
Baby Walker
This is baby Walker.
Sand is tasty
And Davis. Except for the hair, we really did have mini mes.

Learning about: Chinese New Year 2

My aunt is a former teacher, and has been to China 3 times since they opened for tourism in the 80's. We invited her over for lunch with the hope that she would share some pictures and stories with us. Moira wrote the invitation email herself.
Boy did we luck out. My aunt is now retired, so she brought many things she had collected for her classroom and gave them to us. Some fans, multiple maps, books in Mandarin, calligraphed banners (sadly she lost the translations), a little dragon puppet, and much more.

I thought the pictures were the best part. She had photos of Old and New China, along with some of the sections that are now preserved for tourists. I also enjoyed listening to the questions Moira had about certain things. My aunt had always visited in the summer, so Moira got to share her knowledge of the New Year celebration which she loved.

Dining room decorations
Our dining room is very fancy right now. I planned a multi dish meal for the Saturday after the start of the Lunar New Year to share with our household. I planned a little too much, especially considering that Walker was gone skiing with Moira until about an hour before dinner time. As soon as the car was unloaded, he jumped in and helped with the scallion pancakes. Moira surprised us both by asking how she could help, and setting the table almost entirely by herself. She continued to ask how she could help after finishing each task, and when I thanked her she cheerful responded "Everyone helps during Chinese New Year!" which is a line from one of the first books we read on this subject.

Balloon lanterns!
While we were at the birthday party, Davis and I heard loud drumming so we ran up to the main floor of the Armory to discover the Vietnamese Tết ceremony. We sat down for lunch and to watch the lion dance, and afterwards we bought these balloons. I'd been hoping to find some lanterns for the Lantern Festival, but so far had no luck, and I think these are similar enough for my kids to be happy. I also discovered that the outfit I bought Moira years ago when she was obsessed with "Ruby's Wish" is actually a Vietnamese Ao Dai, not a Cheongsam, like I assumed.

One of the things mentioned in a book we read was that you are supposed to decide what kind of positive character change you are supposed to have in the New Year, and then spend the two weeks of the Lunar New Year celebrations really focusing on that aspect. I asked Moira what she wanted to be in the Year of the Horse, and she said she wanted to be fancy. So I let her create her own Pinterest board of clothing ideas, and I'm going to try and involve her in designing some outfits this year. She has VERY different taste that I do, or than I did at her age. This will be interesting.

Chinese Kids Books

Bringing In the New Year
4 of 5 stars
Moira loved this one, and we went through it page by page writing down ideas for us to do as we got ready for the New Year. I especially like that it listed some of the less public things that people do for the Lunar New Year, like gathe...
Tracks of a Panda
2 of 5 stars
This is a cute little book that talks about how Pandas live, and eat. It didn't really appeal to my kids though,.
The Cat's Tale: Why the Years Are Named for Animals
2 of 5 stars
Amusingly, Moira wanted to read this one, but not one of the traditional stories about how the Zodiac race, so I kept having to stop and explain things to her. I thought this one could have been better, the cat seemed a little annoying.
Chelsea's Chinese New Year
4 of 5 stars
I just have a soft spot for these Cloverlead books. They have great illustrations, and I like that they explain the differences in how the celebration talked about is celebrated both in their home country and here in the United States. M...
Chinese New Year
4 of 5 stars
This book is a little dry, but informative. It also has a great recipe for Nian Gao (the traditional New Year's cake) that is naturally Gluten Free.

Part 1, part 3 coming soon.

Monday, January 27, 2014

What we did last week

Watching Harry Potter
We went to Jennifer's house for a Harry Potter party. Davis was surprisingly committed to trying to watch the whole movie.

Davis continues to be obsessed with puzzles. He got this one for Christmas and has all four of the vehicle puzzles memorized, but only wants to do them with an adult watching.

Fort plans
Moira came up with this detailed diagram for the blanket fort complex she wanted to make with the babysitter. I particularly like the snack corner which is a blanket spread between the bookcases, and it is still set up.

Putting away silverwear
Davis insisted on putting away the silverware when I was unloading the dishwasher. He was incredibly methodical about it, and resented every time I tried to help. I guess it is like a puzzle.

Riding the bus
We took the bus to have dinner with a friend of Walker's from work. His wife is Korean American and so she and Moira bonded. She taught Moira how to say hello in Korean "annyeong!" And Moira wanted to remember it to say to our roommate who loves Korean culture. Of course, we had forgotten by the time we saw her, so I googled it and tried to pronounce the formal version, "annyeonghaseyo" and then we had a good conversation about formality in other languages and the reasons you might use an informal vs formal greeting.

Painting circles
Moira and Walker went skiing on Saturday, so Davis and I went to a birthday party at the Seattle Children's Museum together. He had a blast having my full attention and told me all the things. Apparently he saw many ducks while we were driving and every few minutes said "See a duck! Mommy look out window! See the duck?" I lied and told him yes, it was a nice duck, because when I tried to tell him I missed it, he got very upset.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Learning about: Chinese New Year 1

Moira has been anxiously awaiting our unit about China. We decided it would be the most fun to line that get together up with Lunar New Year, for added, extra excitement.

Moira and the lion
We are lucky to live near the Wing Luke museum, so we took a bus to the International District and spent the morning there. Moira was excited to see that they had their dragon and lion puppets out in the lobby. Sadly, the children's section was closed so they could set up the exhibit on New Year celebrations in different cultures, but we are planning to learn about the Thai New Year later this year, so we will go back.

Finding footprints
New since the last time we were there was this scavenger hunt to find all the footprints for the Chinese zodiac animals which lead a trail to the children's section. Moira even found the extra animal (cat) hidden in the gift shop.

Story papers
This is my favorite thing at the Wing Luke. Each of those papers is an immigrant story. It looks like birds from the lobby, and when you are standing under them it's magical.
After we were done at the museum, we went out for dim sum, where both my kids decided that they suddenly like calamari. I'm sure it was a one off experience, but I'm sad that that means Walker and I might have to start sharing ours. We also grabbed some bubble tea before heading home.

To do list
Moira has been really interested in Chinese culture for a couple of years now, so she had a lot of ideas for things she wanted to do for the New Year's party. We started this list so that we wouldn't forget anything. Fortunately, we have a lot of good Asian supermarkets near us, so we went to (what in my head) is the ORIGINAL Seattle one, Uwajimaya where we were able to collect the lanterns, Tray of Togetherness, and red envelopes. We also got a little box of rice candies. Moira bought her own pack of Hello Kitty red envelopes so she could give them to her extra special friends.

Sweeping bad luck out
There were times when we were cranky and out of sorts, and Moira would return to the list to see what kind of activity we could do. I had to walk away from them sweeping the bad luck out of the house because they kept fighting over the three brooms, with both kids wanting to use both big ones, the small one was too small. They seemed to feel a sense of accomplishment afterwards which was nice.

Practicing Mandarin characters
On Moira's request, I bought some red banner paper and an ink stone set. She wanted to write her own spring couplets to hang outside our door. We looked online to find characters for each of the words, and I write them on the banners. I hope no one who actually reads Mandarin ever looks at them because I'm sure it ended up being gibberish. But, she was super proud, as she should be.

Ink painting
The two couplets we hung up were, "When the spring falls spring couplets are hung to welcome the new year in," and "When the summer blooms children get to play outside after dinner."
She enjoyed the inkstone, especially that the tint of the ink depends so much on how long you rub. I got some rice paper to paint on and she was interested in why it was so thin compared to the paper she's used to.

Part 2, part 3 coming soon.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014 Week 3

New mug
This was my favorite photo of me this week, because I have wanted this mug for a long time, and now it's finally mine. Purchased from this store.

I do it!
Davis is super independent lately and it is taking a lot of patience to deal with it. He wanted to push this stroller all the way to the bus stop, and he kept trying to off road it. I did let him get up the hill, but I talked him into riding so we could actually make the bus.

Making patterns
Davis has decided that my sister is the best person to do puzzles with. They all had fun with these pattern blocks Moira got for Christmas.


We are taking (at least) a photo a day, a collage or a picture each week to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

Click Get the code here below to add the blog hop to your blog and join the fun. (Also sign up to be added to a comment group!)

Also linked up at Hobo Mama and NPN.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What we did last week

Mixing chemicals
We finished Moira's crystal kit. One of them we didn't mix well enough so I'm looking forward to seeing if it makes a difference in the finished crystal.

Decorating the tree
The kids decorated this little tree's pot with stickers, and I have been told by the adults who actually clean things in this house that I am not allowed to let them put it on the dining room table again, because it's covered in sticky sparkles that fall off when the tree falls over, but that you have to peel one by one off the table.

Puzzle time!
Davis did a lot of puzzles. A LOT. He has also got the hang of our dinner time ritual where we each say our favorite thing of the day. He knows how to pass, and once when Moira requested we do the favorite part of yesterday (because we had all eaten separately) he came up with a thing that had actually happened yesterday. He's at that point of communication where he's trying to say everything, so for a couple of days I thought he kept saying pasta was his favorite part of the day, until my roommate pointed out that he was saying "Favorite part of day..."

I came out from putting Davis down for a nap to find Moira experimenting with beads on this gear plate. She's been setting up some new and different little worlds like this lately. It's interesting to watch the changes in her thinking.

Ticket to ride
I pulled our roller coaster out, and the baby sitter helped the kids find a fair way to share it. There are now many little tickets around the house that say "good for one ride." Davis has been talking about playing "Ticket to Ride" ever since.

Last week, Walker finally got his new car. Davis is very annoyed at us for not letting him ride in it yet (his carseat is at Walker's work right now). We are planning a road trip of mostly driving to help break in the car.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What we did this week

I've been working on having a set rhythm for our afternoons, since that's when we all seem to be bored and cranky. And because there's all these things Moira wants to do, like art projects, and I need to make myself leave space for that. Now when nap is over, we read four stories (one Moira picks, one Davis picks, one from our unit themed box, and whatever chapter book we are working on) and snuggle on the couch and then usually Moira has an idea for something to do and we work in the art area for awhile. Then the kids are usually able to think of something to do on their own for awhile so I can do chores and get dinner ready.

Tidied art shelves
Yesterday I spent most of the day cleaning up our shelves so that the art stuff is more easily accessed by the kids themselves. I think it's working already because when this was half done, that's they pulled out the play dough and were happy and helping each other for 45 minutes straight. I also assembled the new easel and they have been having fun with chalk and dry erase crayons on that.

"Visited" countries
We've had this map on the wall for a long time, and mostly we ignore it. I suggested that it would be a great way to keep track of the countries we've already done units on. Moira surprised me by being able to locate Hawaii, Mexico, and China on her own.

After reading about a Chinese poet writing on scrolls and finding out how they are read, Moira wanted to write the story she was assigned for homework as a scroll. It's about the movie Frozen, and it's to be read right to left. Hopefully she remembers that when she has to read it in class.

Finished scroll
The finished scroll. We did not manage to tape the chopstick on in a way that it will stay attached.

Place card
My sister helped Moira make place cards for everyone for family dinner night. She seems to always write Davis' name backwards, but no one elses.

Crystal growing
We did the first crystal in Moira's new crystal growing set. I think we should take it out of the liquid before it attaches itself to the container. Hopefully it looks more interesting once it's out than it does right now.