Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas at Our House

We had a quiet day at home for Christmas. Here is a little peek inside.
Started by finishing off our Jesse Tree stories and garland is full of ornaments

The boys were excited when they saw this

Opening stockings

We ate lots of treats

Talked to some Grandprents on Skype and opened presents


Happy dance for slippers

We gave them a "snowball fight"

One of my favorite presents to give a collection of stories and a stuffed toy

Trying to read through the new books the first day

Talked to more grandparents on Skype
Baby took afternoon nap

And the two older boys were quietly reading to themselves. Amazing!

Sharing a new story

Getting ready for our family's little "Christmas pageant"

Alexander's first Christmas photo

Andrew's Third Birthday Party: Thomas the Tank Engine Theme

Andrew officially turned 3 years old on the 18th of December. He is 32 pounds and 36.5 inches tall now. He loves to run and jump and has a great throwing arm. he is till advanced in most fine motor skills and can use a computer mouse really well now. Late this fall he has taken off with reading and can now read entire easy readers by himself. He even enjoys it so much now he chooses to read all on his own.

We celebrated his third birthday with a Thomas the Tank Engine party. The grandparents sent lots of presents and huge decorations. We will be continuing to celebrate with special outings from the grandparents that he received certificates for on his birthday throughout the winter.

I sewed Andrew a stuffed Thomas

Waking up and finding the huge decorations

Decorated dining room

Packing his Thomas lunch box

New building train


Island of Sodor

Making half-birthday cupcakes

Grilled cheese and cheesy Pringles mmm....

Ready to play pin the funnel on Thomas

The littlest brother is happy wearing his Thomas shirt

Daddy building more trains

Ready to blow out his three candles

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."

Thursday, November 22, 2012


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