Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Mandarin Somedays: 坐月子 (Zuo Yue Zi, The Chinese Sitting Month)

I have had lots of ideas to blog about, but not a lot of time with other things going on. I am going to be trying to catch up here some in the next week, but we'll see how it goes. I thought since I hadn't done a post about China in a while I'd start with this.

The Chinese have strong cultural beliefs re­garding most aspects of life, and because of the long history of Chinese medicine these are deeply engrained in their both their daily life and medical system. After giving birth to Alexander, that we learned how strongly these beliefs are held.
Best Made in Chine "Product" we found this year

It is generally accepted (these ideas even per­petuated by doctors) that the mother should lie in bed for at least one month doing nothing. And tra­ditionally they really mean nothing, including reading, showering, and brushing your teeth. Now some moms aren’t quite that extreme, but most moms and babies stay inside for the first month for fear that if they step outside the sun or wind will cause them to be ill the rest of their lives. Usually the only time they go outside during that first month is to come home from the hospital about a week after delivery. During this month in our province you are supposed to eat about five million eggs preferably in brown sugar/egg soup.

We have seen first hand some women in our apartment complex taking these beliefs very seriously. One mother and baby pair came home from the hospital recently. The mother had what looked like a pillow case tied around her head and the baby was covered with a towel, to keep the sun and wind off of them. My husband saw another very pregnant woman accepting a delivery of eggs. An entire van was filled with boxes and boxes of eggs for her.

Walking in the sun
Baby Alexander and I left the hospital 4 hours after birth, went outside to walk around in the sun 5 days later, traveled over 1,000 miles by train, and didn’t eat very many extra eggs, but somehow survived, despite all the grandmothers chasing us down to warn of imminent doom.

We do believe that the people giving advice do care about our well being and are happy that people care about us. It is just interesting when everyone feels as comfortable giving you advice as your own grandmother, but then family relations are very different here too.

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Holiday Preschool Craft: Cutting Paper Snowflakes

This simple idea is so fun there is a reason so many people do it every year. This is the first year I attempted to cut paper snowflakes with my oldest, who is now four years old. It was great cutting practice for him. I didn't have him fold his paper very many times and I drew really big shapes and easy lines, but he really surprised me at how well he did. Before this activity cutting on lines seemed hard and frustrating for him, but he loves the idea of snow, and making snow flakes was really motivating for him. I really like his big snow flake.

Here is a really good tutorial for how to fold and cut really pretty 6 pointed snow flakes (good for older kids) and in this post is an idea for making snow flakes out of coffee filters.

You should definitely spend a little time cutting out at least a snowflake or two with your preschooler. And then you should put them up by some family Christmas pictures from your youth, or not, that is just what I did with mine.

But if you have a picture where your husband looks like the cutest baby elf you have ever seen, you should definitely put that picture up every Christmas to admire the cuteness, and put a paper snowflake by it just for good measure. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Alexander at Two Months

As a kid I could never figure out why my parents and especially grandparents were always saying that time flies so fast, but with each child we have time seems to speed up a little bit more.

Here are some random fun facts about Alexander who is somehow already 2 months old.

  • He is over 13 pounds already and growing into 6 month clothing
  • He is quite strong, holds his head up well, can push his head up when on his tummy, and loves to practice standing
  • If he gets mad enough he has successfully rolled over on a slant and scooted forwards and backwards so we have to watch him
  • He likes to coo and can make a lot of sounds already
  • He is really good at tracking things visually and has a really long attention span for such a tiny guy
  • He is so good when Chinese people hold him, he smiles a lot and seems to enjoy it a lot right now :)
  • His brothers (and everyone else) love him soooooo much  
Since Aaron (our first) was an early talker, and Andrew (our second) was a very early walker, it will be interesting to see what Alexander's strengths are as he continues to develop. Right now it seems like either verbal or motor skills could be his strong suit. It seems like he wants to do everything at once to either catch up to his older brothers, beat them at something, or be able to talk back or run away from them when they are loud and too loving.

Christmas Holiday Preschool Craft: Potato Stamp Wrapping Paper

Another not very original idea, but one that is frugal and fun, is to make wrapping paper using stamps cut out from potatoes.

First I gave both boys large sheets of paper from a fun art pad that my mom brought for them on her visit and all kinds of red markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc. and let them color. You can skip that step of course (or just let them color on it  and skip the paint stamping for a different kind of wrapping paper). But I let them color all over the paper to keep them busy while I cut out the tree stamps from potatoes and got the paint ready. Then them stamped green trees over whatever amount of red they had colored.

If you don't want to use new paper reuse paper bags or even newspapers. We've done both before and they look quite nice as well.

This project is has the added benefit of being useful. Use the wrapping paper to wrap up gifts that stand out from the rest.

Christmas Holiday Preschool Crafts: Painting Pine Cone Christmas Trees

We having been having lots of holiday fun at our house, so much that I haven't had much time to write about it. But I'm going to try to write about a few of the simple things I've been doing with my 4 and almost 3 year old.

Our first holiday project this year was painting pine cone "Christmas trees." This idea isn't new and is pretty self explanatory, but it is cheap and the boys had a lot of fun. They just painted the pine cones they had gathered with washable paint and then sprinkled on a little glitter. You don't have to use glitter of course if you are afraid it is going to make a big mess, or you could even add sequins or buttons to add even more decorations to the little "Christmas trees."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pie and Ice Cream Recipe Roundup

If you are still looking for recipes for Thanksgiving pie and ice cream. Here are few great recipes to choose from. I'll be making some of these later this week.

Pie Recipes:

Ice Cream Recipes:

Dessert Topping Recipes:

DIY Pumpkin Ice Cream

I made this awesome pumpkin ice cream last year for Thanksgiving, based off of a recipe on David Lebovitz's blog. I'm thinking about making it again this year because it went so well with pumpkin pie. In fact, it is basically like eating pumpkin pie in ice cream form.

You could serve it all by itself as a great alternative to pumpkin pie, for those who love the flavor but not the texture of the classic Thanksgiving pie. You could even use it to make an ice cream pie or cake. It would also be great with ginger bread or other spice cake,

If you are not convinced you want that much pumpkin in one bowl, but you still want to make ice cream for Thanksgiving, classic vanilla or this amazing caramel ice cream are sure to please as well.

Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp cloves (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (homemade works great, but if using canned make sure to use 100% pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling with the sweetener and spices already added)
  1. In a metal saucepan mix the milk, cream, white sugar, desired spices, and salt. Stir over low heat until the mixture just begins to bubble at the edges.
  2. In a small mixing bowl whisk the eggs and gradually add about 1 cup of the warmed mild and spice mixture to the eggs. This is tempers the eggs and keeps them from making scrambled eggs in your ice cream so don't skip this step.
  3. Add the egg mixture back to the saucepan and stir until the mixture bubbles and thickens to coat a spoon or spatula.
  4. Remove from heat and cool in the refrigerator or regular freezer.
  5. When cool add brown sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin puree.
  6. If there are pieces of egg, small chunks of pumpkin, or you just want to make sure your ice cream is super smooth, press through a fine metal strainer at this point.
  7. Freeze in an ice cream freezer or follow the instructions here for freezing in a regular freezer.
Makes 1 quart/liter of ice cream.


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