Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese New Year!




Happy Chinese New Year!
Today starts the year of the Ox, I believe. We're not actually Chinese, but we have a lot of friends who are, so we've celebrated this holiday since Emma was about 18 months old. (In fact, Emma has saved her "red envelopes" from her friend, Crystal from every year!)
It's a very fun holiday! Here is some information you may not have known!
Some traditions that people do on Chinese new year are:
1. Clean house and new clothes: According to Celebrate Chinese New Year by Elaine A. Kule, prior to the first day of the New Year it is customary for families to thoroughly clean their homes from top to bottom. Doing this is said to clear out any back luck from the previous year and to ready the house to accept good luck for the coming year.
All cleaning must be finished before New Year's Day so there is no chance of accidentally throwing out the good fortune of the new year. "Before New Year's Day you want to buy new clothes or cut your hair" in order to have a fresh start, says Ng. Wearing black is not allowed due to its association with death, however, wearing red is encouraged as the color is associated with warding off bad spirits.
2. Decorate the house: Another popular custom is to hang up signs and posters on doors and windows with the Chinese word fu written on them, which translates to luck and happiness. Buying flowers for the home is also commonplace since they symbolize the coming of spring and a new beginning. In Chinese neighborhoods, special lunar New Year flower markets often sprout up during the days prior to the New Year.
3. Eat with your family: On the eve of the Chinese New Year it is customary to visit with relatives and partake in a large dinner where a number of specific foods are served.
"Typically families do eight or nine dishes because they are lucky numbers," says Grace Young, author of The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen. "The Chinese word for eight is baat [in Cantonese], which rhymes with faat, the word for prosperity." The word for nine means "long-lasting."
"A lot of the foods are very symbolic," explains Ng. Some popular foods include: dumplings ("because they look like golden nuggets" says Ng), oranges ("because they are perfectly round, symbolizing completeness and wholeness"), and long noodles ("served to symbolize long life").
Sticky rice cakes and sweets are also served and are tied to a story about the Kitchen God-- a Santa Claus-like figure who reports to the Jade Emperor in heaven on whether families have been good or bad through the course of the year. According to legend, when families serve the Kitchen God sticky, delicious foods, his mouth gets stuck together and therefore he cannot report any bad things about the family to the Jade Emperor.
4. Give good luck gifts: It is a traditional practice for adults to give children little red envelopes--hong bao in Mandarin or lai-see in Cantonese--filled with money in order to symbolize wealth and prosperity for the coming year. It is also common for elders to bestow red packets to unmarried members of the family. It is a sign of respect to bow three times in order to accept the hong bao. Envelopes are not to be opened until the recipient has left the home of the giver.
5. Make lanterns: The New Year's festivities come to an end on the fifteenth day of the new year, which is celebrated by the Lantern Festival. According to the book Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz, and the Children's Museum, Boston, the Lantern Festival honors the first full moon of the year and represents the coming of springtime.
Families will light lanterns, which symbolize the brightness of spring, and hang them on walls around the house, or on poles to be carried in lantern parades. Last year, we all went to a Chinese New Year festival on campus, where Emma was given a pink lantern, which she hangs over her bed for good dreams.
Another fun thing about the Chinese New Years is that it begins a new animal sign. There are 12 animals that rotate through the years. We are each born in a certain "animal" year.
There are endless variations of the folklore story explaining how the order of the animals of the zodiac were chosen. Below is a popular telling of tale:
When it came time for the Jade Emperor in heaven to decide the order of the zodiac, he invited all the animals to participate in a race. The order of the zodiac would be decided by the order in which animals finished the race.
When the competition started, the ox was leading the pack, but the rat jumped on his back. Since the rat was so light and small, the ox did not realize that the rat was hitching a ride. As the ox approached the finish line, the rat leap off his back and was crowned as the first animal to complete the race.
After all the creatures finished the race, the order was finalized: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
The animal sign is similar to your horoscope. Here are the traits of our family animals. Do they sound like us?!?! ;D

Evan:
The Rat
Years: 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
Positive Character Traits: Charming and ambitious
Negative Character Traits: Short-tempered and sometimes sneaky
Most Compatible with: Dragon (Papa & Uncle Kurt), Monkey, Ox
Heidi
The Horse
Years: 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
Positive Character Traits: Hardworking, cheerful, popular
Negative Character Traits: Rarely listens to advice, can be a chatterbox
Most Compatible with: Tigers (Uncle Brock), Dogs (Auntie Pickle, Baby Eli), Sheep (John, Emma)



John & Emma

The Goat (Ram or Sheep)
Years: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
Positive Character Traits: Elegant, artistic, compassionate
Negative Character Traits: First to complain about something, pessimistic
Most Compatible with: Rabbit, Pig, Horse (Heidi)
We actually agreed that they sound a LOT like us! Go check out your animal sign (my favorite site is :http://holidays.slides.kaboose.com/118-chinese-astrology-animals-of-the-chinese-zodiac/4) and see how you measure up!
Have a happy new year! Celebrate well! (I'd love to get new clothes...but the cleaning house from top to bottom....ehhhh) :D

♥ Heidi
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Mmmmm...Coooookies!! (<---- Say in Homer Simpson Voice)

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!!! The kids are all out of school, so Emma & her friend are here, playing with My Little Ponies. :) So cute to see my childhood toys coming back again! (Although it makes me feel super old!!)

Anyway, here is the list of cookies for this year's sales. http://www.girlscoutcookies.org/meet_cookies.asp
She is selling all EXCEPT the Daisy Go Rounds, Thank Yous, and Lemonades. The new Dulche de Leche is one we got to sample, and I wasn't too sure about it, being as I'm not a big carmel fan, but it was YUMMY!!! I definately bought some of them! But still, Thin Mints always have my vote :)

Emma has already sold 31 boxes! Yay! The largest amount from Auntie Pickle's boyfriend, Levi. He's a Cookie Monster!!

Yesterday after church was really nice out, so we took the kids to snap some photos. Here are a few cute ones:
















Anyway, we are off to take some more pictures and play at the park! Tonight is day one of my camera class, so we'll see if there's any improvement in my pictures next week! :)
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Goopy Eyes & Girl Scout Cookies!

Well, you all fear the day that those little girls all over the country start showing up at your door, in front of Wal-Mart, and in parking lots across America. Their parents are bringing forms to work, and the pressure is killing you - especially since your New Year's Resolution was to lose weight. But those damn girls are so cute!!
Well....those girls just got cuter! Our little Daisy Scout, Emma will begin cookie sales tomorrow! She went through "Cookie Sales Boot Camp" last night to learn how to sell them, and the prizes she'll earn with the amount sold. Of course, you know Emma - she's going for the top prize, which is 2000 boxes of cookies! Goodness. That kid's got spunk. Anyway, according to the girl scout rules, you cannot buy (and I cannot ask) you to buy Girl Scout cookies until tomorrow, but if you decide that you'd like some - keep Emma in mind! At $4 a box, and 8 different kinds, it's worth it! (And they freeze well!) Plus, I guess they get to go to camp or something, but...face it...we all just want the sugar...
Evan went to the doctor yesterday for goopy eye. Of course, by the time he went, his eye was no longer fooping, and I looked like a freaking-out mom again. Oh well. She did say his eyes looked a little hazy, so I have a perscription for eye drops in case it comes back. He weighed in at 18 pounds, 12 ounces fully dressed. I bought his big boy car seat last week because he's getting waaaay too heavy for me to carry in the carrier anymore. I just need to install it now...but it's so cold!!!
ANyway, I am doing loads and loads of laundry today and trying to clean up around the house before the whole family is home over the 3 day weekend to mess it up again! Evan has been helping out :)


Until he can sit up on his own REALLY well, he can't sit by the fireplace without his handy dandy laundry basket playpen! :)
Anyone can capture your eye, but it takes someone this darn cute to capture your heart! ♥
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Year, New Fun!





Whew! I can't believe it's already half way through January! I haven't even *gulp* sent out thank you notes, AND I even have a couple gifts still ungiven!! So horrible! This organizational guru has officially retired & become the forgetful lady next door :( Boooo. I have found myself busier than normal, I guess just trying to get everything back to "normal" after the break. Emma headed back to school last week, and kindermusik started this week. I'm already looking forward to the 3 day weekend! Between trying to stick to a new (and MUCH tighter) budget, and get everything ready for taxes, money is definately NOT my friend right now, and makes me envious of those saggy breasted naked people in tribes that just trade shells for food and stuff. Of course, who knows, maybe then I'd hate end of the year shell taxes or something. Still...can't you just eat some more clams and at the same time, make more money?? Hmm.
Anyway, along with a new year comes new events in our household! Evan has begun sitting up on his own (still wobbly, but working on it!) And just yesterday, he was holding himself up with his arms on his tummy. He's growing so big, I can't believe it.

Sitting up!

I had to buy a new carseat because he's too heavy to carry around in the baby carrier anymore!! My denial of his growth has caused the carseat install to stall, but my arm is feeling so bad lately that I will give in soon, I'm sure!

Another exciting event (that JUST happened!) is that Emma lost tooth #2! It came out while brushing her teeth. So funny. She's THRILLED, of course. Another membership fee paid to the lost tooth club at scchool. :)

My mom bought this tooth keeper for Emma before she was even born!



Tooth #2!



One of the most exciting events here was a visit from Uncle Kurt! He was here over Christmas break, but was mostly working at the AF Base in Oklahoma CIty. He spent his last few days in town here, and Emma & John loved playing Rockband with him & Uncle Brock. Then he was off to L.A. to visit my mom & brother before returning back to Japan.
Uncle Kurt checking in to the airport

The Christmas toys are still being played with daily, and just yesterday, a new group of Ugly Dolls arrived for Emma, which she was exstatic about. The Uglies have become her second family, and with 3 sizes, they are either a parent, a child, or a baby. She has ALL kinds of stories about them (which I'm sure the Ugly creators would LOVE to hear!!). My Uncle Roy is the guilty party sending them over. He has a love for them as well, and has since caused Emma's to grow. She is wondering when Gruncle Roy will build "Uglyland" - a spinoff of Disneyland, only replacing the characters and rides with Uglies and rides through the Ugly Towns. So funny, and yet... I would TOTALLY go!!
Emma & her uglies!

Evan is in love with everything. The only thing that ever stops his sweet smile is sleep or teething! That little boy absolutely is a blessing.
Anyway, I will soon be back to writing more often, but until then...take care!! :)

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2009!!!
How was your night? We went to our friends' house to ring in the new year. Amazingly, we all made it to midnight, even Evan, who fell asleep a few minutes later. I had put both kids to nap for awhile yesterday afternoon, so that may have helped. Emma picked out headgear for everyone shortly before the party and noisemakers (which had to be confiscated until midnight!), but we all had fun and are ready for a new year to begin!! Emma & Lauren with a big hug at midnight!
New Years Baby!
John & I in our New Years Attire!
We haven't all made our resolutions this year yet, but John says his is going to be to get in better shape. I could say the same, but it would be nice if I had a resolution I couldn't fail at! Hee hee. So sad. :(
On the agenda for today: Relaxing and refreshing.
Have a wonderful first day of the year!!
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