Thursday, June 28, 2012

DIY Baby Quilt

I used some odds and ends to make two quilts for the new baby recently. One is decidedly boy colors and one girl colors. I simply cut a lot of 4 inch squares out, alternated designs to form a pattern, and sewed all the squares together with 1/4 inch seems. I sewed on a backing and top stitched the edges, but didn't bother to quilt the whole blankets since they are so small. I think they turned out cute. :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mandarin Mondays;端午節 (Duanwu or Dragon Boat Festival)

This weekend was the traditional Dragon Boat Festival (Duānwǔ Jié, 端午節) here in China. This festival varies year to year according to the traditional Chinese Lunisolar calander, but takes place around the summer solstice when the sun is at its strongest. During this festival people might watch dragon boat races, drink wine, and eat zòng zi (粽子).

This year I was invited to learn how to make zòng zi (粽子), the traditional food of this festival, with some friends. Zòng zi are a packet of extremely sticky rice wrapped in leaves. There are both sweet and savory varieties. We made a savory variety that is popular here in the south, that has meat and salty duck egg yolk inside it.

To make zòng zi (粽子) first you take some leaves (apparently many types of leaves are used) and lay them out, add seasoned rice and any fillings, and then fold and tie the leaves. These packets are then boiled for several hours and the rice becomes one solid glutinous mass. There are many stories about the origin of this festival and zòng zi (粽子). The most popular being that a famous Chinese poet drowned himself when enemies invaded and people threw zòng zi (粽子) into the river to keep the fish from eating his body.

Zòng zi (粽子) can be eaten hot or cold. Andrew is the most fond of this delicacy in our family. He kept asking for more.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Do It Yourself Mom 1 Year Anniversary!

Mother's Day 2012
It is hard to believe but one year ago already I started this blog with my first post about dairy. We've had a lot of changes in our lives this past year and learned a lot of things. And I've been better about writing down my recipes and recording projects that I've tried.

This blog has been quite helpful to me and hopefully some others as well. This next week I'll be trying to bring some things up to date around here and organizing the site better.

Thanks for spending time in this corner of the web, I'm looking forward to seeing what is in store next for us. :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

25 Week Pregnancy Update {with belly pic}

This pregnancy is flying by much faster than my first two. Not a whole lot going on right now. I'm feeling pretty good overall, although I do get tired easily. This baby is very active and is a busy, busy baby. One cool thing is that Aaron has already been able to play with the new baby a little already. He'll push gently on my tummy and if the baby's in the right mood, it will kick his hand back. Aaron loves it!

I did remember to take belly pictures this week from the front and side, so I figured I post them, even though there isn't a whole lot else to tell. A friend of mine who has only seen pictures of me kindly remarked that I don't look that pregnant. Maybe not from the front with the right shirt, but from the side definitely. And I've probably already grown more since this pic, after all of our eating for Aaron's birthday yesterday. :)

Linking up to My Joy-Filled Life Pregnancy Journal.

Family Fridays: Father's Day and Fourth Birthday

Aaron and his "pizza baby"
This past week has been a busy week of celebrating for us. We started celebrating on Saturday night by going out for Father's Day early, because the Western restaurants we like on this side of town are closed on Sunday. We went to the Chicago Coffee pizza buffet. I always forget to take pictures while we're there because we start talking to friends, but we had a lot of good pizza. The boys ate so much this time that Aaron declared he grew a pizza baby in his tummy.

Sunday we talked to some family back home, ate a lot of special food here, and the boys had fun reading and playing with daddy. Aaron and I made lemon meringue pie together for Nate. I was pretty happy that it turned out really well, since we only have a crank mixer and meringue is tricky at high altitude. I'll have to post the recipe soon.

Then Thursday was Aaron's Fourth Birthday and we celebrated Andrew half birthday (he's now 2 1/2 years old) at the same time. We were getting ready for the birthday on Wednesday and with all of the ice cream and cake being made, the presents being wrapped, and other stuff going on the boys were way to excited to think about sleeping until really late, when they both crashed on the couch.

On Thursday the boys woke up to balloons all over their room and in the dining room with cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Then they got to talk to both sets of grandparents on Skype and hunt for and open the birthday presents from them. They were so excited. Aaron was thrilled about all of his presents even exclaiming over his new shoes and shorts.

We had a Chinese friend come over for lunch and the boys had fun playing with her. It was kind of funny because immediately she remarked about the quality of the balloons we had. We told her that our parents, who do think it's funny to send us things like salt and balloons, were gracious enough to include a ton of balloons in birthday boxes for the boys, so we're set for balloons for quite a while.

She left a little after lunch. Nate also left after lunch to go to his Mandarin class. The boys spent the afternoon using their new things from the grandparents. They played with their new trains, colored in new coloring books, read new books, and even went swimming in the bathtub so they could both play with their new bath toys at the same time.

Afterward Aaron picked out the biggest clothes he could find to wear, which ironically was a 5T Thomas long-sleeve Thomas shirt that was a Christmas gift from my parents, that he has been refusing to wear for months. The reason was only that it is not exactly like his old one. But now "he is 4 and bigger and needs bigger clothes" and loves it. Good thing they got a large size, as it will be good for next winter.

After Nate came back we went to KFC for ice cream and playing. Then around behind Walmart to ride the silly rides and play the silly wack-a-Mickey game. This was a small part of their present from Great-Grandma.

Back at home we had macaroni and cheese for dinner, which is a huge treat here in China. Then the boys opened their presents from us. We gave them blankets and games, and I made Aaron a stuffed Tux the Linux penguin. Super Tux Kart is one of the boys favorite games and Nate downloaded and compiled the source code for the new version so the boys could play parts of it for their birthday, before it is even released. They thought it was pretty cool to be able to play even part the new version of the game as they have been awaiting its release. Then they colored Tux and Mozilla pictures. After that we had cake and ice cream. Aaron asked for a Tux racing cake that I think actually turned out pretty cute, and Andrew wanted a Blob Salad cake. They have interesting Open Source taste in computer games.

Throughout the day, anytime he was calm enough to sit down, Aaron was reading the new books he received for his birthday. He basically read through all of his new books on his birthday, including an almost 200 page collection of Curious George.

And the boys, and their parents, slept very soundly that night.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 哥哥 (Older Brother)

Andrew hugging a little brother as they look at the fish
Andrew is growing so fast and seems a lot older lately now that he is speaking in sentences and using the potty quite well most of the time. We've already announced that he has a younger sibling due to arrive on the outside in the fall. But Andrew is already getting called older or big brother (gēge, 哥哥) on the playground.

I've mentioned before that in Mandarin people traditionally use family terms to relate to people even outside their family. This is especially true among children. When we first arrived Andrew was almost always the little brother (dìdi, 弟弟), when we would be out and about. This is in part because they usually don't put kids down to play outside until they can walk well, because well the ground can be dirty from kids playing in split pants. So most of the kids around were his age or older, or they were being carried around constantly and not really interacting.

Now there are different one-year-olds running around, but Andrew is older and much bigger. So now he gets to be the older brother (gēge, 哥哥) to Chinese babies even before he meets his new sibling in the fall and finds out if it is a younger brother (dìdi, 弟弟) or a younger sister (mèimei, 妹妹).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Family Fridays: Medical Records

This week we successfully obtained a medical record book for the new baby's delivery. Apparently in China, or at least in this city, you are required to get a medical record book for a baby at the official hospital in the district in which you live and are registered in. If you don't wish to deliver at this particular hospital, you still have to go there to obtain the record book for the hospital you are using to write in. This took me no less than three trips to two hospitals, and the help of one very wonderful Chinese friend, but we finally had success.

This is because they required additional tests to issue me the record book. For some reason kidney and liver function tests are required, as well as a very recent ultrasound. Of course everything came back fine and we are happy we now have the proper record book. We are also very thankful that the biggest "problems" with this pregnancy so far are simply paperwork related and some minor discomforts that won't effect the baby's or my own health at all in the long run.

Linking up to My Joy-Filled Life.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mandarin Mondays:等一等 (Wait a Little)

One of the things I was told repeatedly on Friday during my visit to the Chinese hospital, for my prenatal visit and some extra tests, was to wait. I was told this in a few different ways, but perhaps most commonly was 等一等(děng yī děng).

This made me think of how this reduplication of words is extremely common in Chinese. They often use the same word twice to add emphasis or feeling to a statement.

In the case of a verb like wait, reduplication usually means that it is something done for a short time or that is or should be easy to do. Adjectives are commonly reduplicated to emphasize this certain quality like good (hǎo hǎo, 好好) or small (xiǎo xiǎo, 小小). There are many other uses as well.

At first reduplication can sound funny to English speakers, because we don't commonly do this. It can sound almost like baby talk. But it is used so ubiquitously in Mandarin that you soon become quite comfortable throwing in reduplicated words into everyday phrases.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Family Fridays: Big Head Baby

23 weeks pregnant
I went for a prenatal check up today, and everything is looking good. They did another ultrasound this time. They actually let me see the screen a little bit too this time, so that was cool.

The baby was curled up so the face was not visible, but they commented that the baby had a big head and would be very intelligent. According to the measurement on the ultrasound report the head is actually not on the large side according to charts I've seen, but perhaps for here, it is. It's nice to know people are already convinced this is going to be a smart baby.

Hopefully its head doesn't get too big until it is on the outside though. :)

Linking up to My Joy-Filled Life.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DIY 1-2-3 Ingredient "Vegan Ice Cream"

1 Ingredient Banana Ice Cream
I've seen this idea around for a while now lots of places, one of the first was here, I believe. But hadn't tried it myself yet, mainly because I love my blender, but it is not the most powerful one in the world. I didn't want to kill it making banana ice cream, but with softening the bananas slightly and babying the machine a little, we had a great treat. I think that if our blender could handle blending just bananas without any added liquid, most other blenders would definitely be up to the challenge. The boys loved it and my husband couldn't believe it had no added sugar. I liked the version with chocolate and peanut butter best, not really a surprise, but the plain banana was still quite good.

Homemade 1-2-3 Ingredient Ice Cream Recipe

  • 4–6 frozen bananas
  • 2–3 Tbsp peanut butter (for 2 ingredient ice cream)
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder (for 3 ingredient ice cream)
    2 Ingredient Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
  1. Cut up very ripe bananas in small sections and freeze. I did make this successfully with whole frozen bananas too, but I had to let them thaw a little to soften up some.
  2. Place frozen bananas and other ingredients that are desired into the blender. Blend in short bursts, scraping and stirring as needed.
  3. Enjoy soft serve right away as it melts fast or place in an airtight container in the freezer to firm up a little more for scooping. If you keep it in the freezer for a long time, it will eventually get too hard to scoop and you will have to allow it to soften before scooping.

3 Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
Linking up to Raising Arrows.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 感冒 (Common Cold)

I mentioned recently that our whole family caught a cold over the weekend. It really isn't anything serious, and our boys already got over it in one day. My husband and I still have the sniffles, but it isn't anything terrible. We're taking extra vitamin C, eating well, and drinking lots of fluids, and we will probably be over this bug shortly.

To the Chinese people though, catching a cold (gǎn mào, 感冒) is a very serious matter. If fact people often go to the hospital here when they catch a common cold. Usually, they are simply given an IV and sent home, possibly with some pear medicine for a sore throat or some other kind of medicine.

Most people also still really seem to believe that having a cold (gǎn mào, 感冒) is related to being cold (lěng,). That is, your internal temperature is too cold (lěng,) and thus you are sick with a cold (gǎn mào, 感冒). There are other diseases that they believe are caused by too much internal heat. One person I know says this includes pink eye. Even people we know who are pretty aware of germs, wash their hands frequently, and take extra precautions when preparing food, will still pile on the sweaters and blankets when they have a cold. It is just the way it works here. And you definitely shouldn't tell any Chinese people that you have a cold if you are wearing anything less than 3 sweaters and a parka, even in the middle of summer, because you will get harshly scolded and tell you to go home and put more clothes on.

I actually find it kind of ironic that the words cold (gǎn mào, 感冒) and cold (lěng,) in English are the same, but different in Mandarin. I would definitely expect it to be the other way around because this belief is so ingrained into their culture.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Family Fridays: Speeding Up and Slowing Down

It feels like this year just started, I blinked, and suddenly it is June already. I am more than halfway through this pregnancy, Andrew will turn 2.5 years old this month, and Aaron will turn 4 years old this month. Amazing.

Maybe we needed to slow down a little bit around here, because this weekend all of my students canceled for various reasons, and we all came down with colds. Nothing serious, although to the Chinese colds are a very serious matter, but we'll be hanging out at home most of the weekend. It will be a good chance to catch up on some rest and projects around the house.


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