Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year ! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Countdown to 2014 Chinese New Year - New Year's Eve - Books for Children

Books are so important to us. Lina<3 loves to read. Here are some that I thought were interesting reads which I had selected from Amazon. I have not brought any for us yet, but will soon, (stay tune for that).

Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year : A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book     
It's Chinese New Year and there are so many fun things to do! Shopping at the outdoor market for fresh flowers, eating New Year's dinner with the whole family, receiving red envelopes from Grandma and Grandpa, and best of all-watching the spectacular Chinese New Year's parade! Introduce the customs of Chinese New Year to even the youngest readers with this festive new lift-the-flap book.
In a brightly colored board book, perfect  for the youngest child, Newbery Honoree Grace Lin tells the tale of a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each family member lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it's time to celebrate. There will be fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade at the end!
Lin's bold and gloriously patterned artwork makes for an unforgettable holiday tale. Her story is simple and tailor-made for reading aloud to young children, and she includes an informative author's note for parents, teachers and children who want to learn even more.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

my babies make us laugh!

My babies know how to make us laugh out loud.  Lina<3 loves to put a smile on our faces, as well as make us laugh with her silly antics.

Serena:) is developing so well. I am greeted with smiles as we wake up in the mornings and throughout the day when she is awake and playful. She even talks to us with her cooing noises, and the"ah" sounds. We can go back and forth, and that is how we talk to each other. Serena:) loves it when I mimics her speech which makes her excitable and continue making those sounds. It just makes me smile and laugh when she talks to me. Serena:) is starting to make crawling motions while doing tummy time. Serena enjoys play time, and watching big jie jie (sister in Chinese) play, screamed, dance, and be excitable. Serena slept eight hours last night! That is a big stretch, a milestone, and I am loving it! I love my little Serena.

Baba (daddy in Chinese told me an interesting conversation with Lina<3.
Baba was showing Lina<3 some baby picture of herself as a baby on his phone.
Baba: "This is Lina<3", and points to picture.
Lina<3: "Lina<3", and points to self.
Baba: points to picture again, "Baby is Lina<3".
Lina<3: firmly said "no", points to self "This Lina", and points to picture, "no baby, no baby Lina<3, no".

Another conversation with Mama that is so cute from last month, which I still remember about woman.
Mama: "are you a baby?"
Lina<3: smiling as she said  "no".
Mama: "Then are you a girl".
Lina<3:" no".
M: "yes you are a girl, Lina<3 is a little girl".
L: points to self, "no girl", points to me, "mama girl".
M: points to Lina<3, "Lina<3 is a girl", and points to myself, "Mama is a woman".
L: points to self, "no girl", points to me, "mama no woman, mama girl", and points to self, "Lina woman".
M: points to self. "Mama is a woman and Lina<3 is a girl".
L: points to self, "Lina woman, Lina woman".
L: yells "woman" as she points to self.

Lina just makes me laugh with the things that she says. Here is a updated conversation about woman from yesterday. She is learning to distinguish, man, woman, girl, and baby.
Mama: "are you my baby?"
Lina<3: "no" "baby right there", and points to Serena:) and "Mama baby".
M: "yes, Serena:) is my baby, and Lina<3 is my baby".
L: "Lina girl", "Lina no baby", with her thinking face, and said "Lina baby" - referring to her doll.
M: "Where is Lina's<3 baby?"
L: "hmm", "outside" - referring to living room.
M: "is Lina's<3 baby outside in the living room?"
L: "hmm",  and points to self, "woman"
M: "who is a woman?"
L: "Mama".
M: "yes, mama is a woman", "are you a woman?"
L: "no", "hmmm", "baba woman".
M: "baba is not a woman, baba is a man".
L: nods her head, "baba man", "mama woman".
M: "yes, baba man. mama woman",  "PorPor (grandmother in Chinese) is a woman", "Gonggong (grandfather in  Chinese) is a man".
L: "PorPor no woman, porpor man, mama woman".

During playtime with Baba over the weekend, playing with her car. Lina's<3 car (yes, girls play with cars too!) zooms past her, her hand extended out to try and sais "uh, uh". As the car pasted her, Lina<3 with hand extended toward her car, and said "baba help me". Meanwhile, the car was just an inch away, Baba said "go, and get it". Still in the same stands, hands extended toward the car, and said "baba help me" "help me please". Lol.

These are just a couple of conversations and moments that just makes me (and Baba) smile. I love how Lina<3 answers my questions or tries to think of an answer.

Countdown to 2014 Chinese New Year - 2 Days Left - Food

Food is always important in any holiday. For the Chinese New Year, there are traditional foods that should be prepared as a way to bring in more good luck, and some other foods that should be avoided for the new year as a sign of bad luck. For our new year's dinner, we will be headed PorPor's house :)

I found that TLC cooking article "10 Chinese New Year Food Superstitions"  to be the best summary about the traditions of Chinese New Year's food. Here is their countdown listed below:

10: Oranges and Tangerines
Two of the most common food symbols of the Chinese New Year are tangerines and oranges. Whereas tangerines represent wealth, oranges are a popular symbol of good luck. The associations come from a similarity between the Chinese words for tangerine and gold, as well as a resemblance between the words orange and good luck. It isn't uncommon in Chinese culture for similar sounding or spelled words with very different meanings (homonyms) to become suggestive of one another over time. Oranges and tangerines are also a bright, vibrant orange, a happy color that's associated with good fortune.
During Chinese New Year, tangerines and oranges are displayed as decorations and are also exchanged among friends and acquaintances. Sometimes, small trees are kept for this purpose. When giving these fruits as gifts, offer them with both hands. It's polite for the recipient to refuse at first, so keep trying.
Fruit is almost always a good Chinese New Year's gift. Oranges and tangerines are a traditional favorite, though, and can also represent happiness and abundance, as in an abundant harvest. If there are still leaves and a stem attached to the fruit, it also means fertility.
9: Noodles
Noodles are an ancient food, although there's some debate about where they were first created. There's no doubt that noodles are an important addition to many traditional Chinese dishes like lo mein and chow mein. Noodles are a staple of the Chinese diet and can be made from a number of ingredients, like rice flour, wheat flour or mung bean starch.
When served during Chinese New Year, noodles shouldn't be cut or broken into pieces. Long noodles represent a nice long life, although eating them could get a little messy. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to consider having a couple of sturdy napkins on hand.
8: Chicken
Whole chicken is a popular dish during Chinese New Year because it represents togetherness and rebirth. It's symbolic of the family and can also signify unity and prosperity as a group. After all, chicken is a good source of protein and can feed even a large family when prepared carefully. To make sure that the symbolism is complete, it's a good idea to boil or steam the chicken with the head and feet still on to represent unity. Go the extra step and make a symbolic offering of chicken to your ancestors, too. You may not get any takers, but showing respect for the past and enthusiasm for the future is a big part of the holiday.
In Chinese tradition, melons and pomelos are also symbolic of family and are the embodiment of the hope that the family will remain large and whole. The pomelo, a citrus fruit that looks like a big pear and tastes a little like a sweet grapefruit, is also a symbol of abundance.
7: Chinese Dumplings
A popular family New Year's Eve tradition is to get together and make boiled dumplings (jiaozi). Boiled Chinese dumplings are fun and relatively easy to make, and their fried counterparts, pot stickers, are also a Western favorite. Filled with vegetables like cabbage and spring onion, and flavored with pork or shrimp, Chinese dumplings make a filling appetizer or side dish any time of year.
If you plan on following this Chinese New Year tradition, encourage everyone in the family to participate in the preparation and conceal a coin in one of the dumplings in the batch. If the person who finds it doesn't chip a tooth, he's destined to have a very, very lucky year.
6: Pomegranates
Pomegranates are a natural for Chinese New Year. They're filled with colorful seeds for fertility and are a bright vibrant red, which represents happiness and repels evil spirits. They're also good for you, with an abundance of antioxidants and vitamin C to help you recuperate after the celebrations are over.
You probably already know that pomegranate juice is a great pick-me-up and base for a number of alcoholic beverages (it's often made into a sugar syrup called grenadine), but pomegranate seeds are also refreshing in salads and perk up the color and sweetness of meats when added to marinades. They make an eye popping garnish too, especially when paired with slivered carrots, purple cabbage or orange segments.
If you want to experiment, peel a fresh pomegranate and sample the seeds. They have a predominantly sweet flavor with just a slight sour aftertaste. They're wonderful as a fresh, cold dessert all by themselves.
5: Seeds
Seeds are important in Chinese New Year celebrations because they're symbolic of the harvest, abundance and fertility. They represent the potential for good things to come and appear again and again as the embodiment of hope.
Many seed-rich fruits are either used as ingredients in classic dishes or for decoration. Besides the symbolic significance of the seeds in fruits like oranges, tangerines, melons, pomegranates and pomelos, seeds are also used by themselves or as major ingredients. Red-dyed melon seeds are added to candies and offered to guests or children, and the sweet seeds of the lotus are candied, too. Red melon seeds have multiple meanings because they incorporate the significance of red for joy with the potential and hope represented by the seeds themselves.
4: Vegetarian's Delight
A large all vegetable medley is a favorite New Year's Day dish. This classic is sometimes called Vegetarian's Delight, Jai or Buddhist's Delight. Make sure to use plenty of root vegetables. Chinese New Year is the beginning of the spring planting season, so it's a great time to use up those stored winter veggies and clear the shelves for spring greens.
To add a little extra good fortune, be sure to include black moss to attract wealth, lotus seeds for fertility, and bamboo shoots for strength and longevity. Some other common ingredients are tiger lily buds, red dates (jujubes), Chinese cabbage, cloud ears and water chestnuts.
3: White Foods
Although you'll see tofu (fresh bean curd) in some Chinese New Year recipes, serving white ingredients is usually considered bad luck during the 15-day celebration. White represents bad fortune and even death, although in other areas of Chinese life it can mean purity, too.
Color is often symbolic during this time, and foods that are red, orange, green or gold are considered particularly auspicious. This is one of the reasons tangerines, oranges, red melon seeds and pomegranates are popular food gifts. Their colors are believed to represent the following:
  • White - bad luck, death, loss, mourning
  • Red - happiness, purity, celebration, health, luck
  • Orange - happiness, luck
  • Gold or yellow - happiness, prosperity
  • Green - luck, harmony
2: Prosperity Tray
The Chinese New Year prosperity tray is usually a hexagonal or round dish that contains eight traditional candy varieties. The number eight represents prosperity, and each candy has symbolic significance. Made from traditional ingredients, like red melon seeds, peanuts or candied melon, these treats are offered to children and guests.
When an adult takes a candy from the tray, he replaces it with a red envelope, or Lai See, that contains a money gift for good luck. The amount of the gift usually ends in an even number, often an eight [source: Moriarity].
The eight traditional candies are:
  • Candied melon - good health
  • Coconut - togetherness
  • Kumquat - prosperity
  • Lychee nuts - family ties
  • Longan - fertility (for bearing sons)
  • Lotus seeds - a large family
  • Peanuts - long life
  • Red melon seeds - happiness, truth
1: Fish
It's traditional to serve a whole fish on New Year's Eve and save half for the next day. The Chinese word for fish is similar to the word for plenty, and saving part of the fish for later consumption insures symbolic abundance for the future. In true Chinese fashion, buy the freshest fish you can. When exploring the options, insist on a fish with clear eyes and a clean, not fishy smell.
As with chickens served during this time, it's important to keep the fish whole, with the tail and head intact. The body of the fish represents family unity or togetherness. If you're serving guests, place the fish on the table facing them as a sign of respect and welcome.

Also, check out Steamy Kitchen's Chinese New Year 2014: What to eat if you want a raise!

If you are got hungry from reading about these foods, and to try some recipes,  check out : Huffington Post's
Happy Chinese New Year: Now It's Recipe Time.

If you are a Godiva chocolate lover like I am, please check out their tribute to the Chinese New Year, Year of the Horse, here.

We are going to make dumplings, and chicken egg rolls with PorPor tomorrow :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Countdown to 2014 Chinese New Year -3 Days Left - What is all about?

What is Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) all about? As I tried to teach it to my daughter, Lina<3.  It is about the Chinese culture, and family. It is about wishing each other well. It is the most important holiday for us, Chinese people (to be politically correct, the Chinese are not the only ones celebrating this holiday). It is about a new year, looking forward and not back. There are many traditions, superstitions, foods,  events, and lai see (red envelopes with money) during the holiday. 

Please check out these sites to find out more about the holiday:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Countdown to 2014 Chinese New Year – 4 Days Left - Fish Craft

As we are coming to close to the end of the Year of the Snake.  In our household, we will be doing some Chinese New Year artwork to welcome the new year, the Year of the Horse. Today, we did a fish craft. I got the idea from Scholastic (Thank you Scholastics). Since I did not have some of the items needed for the first craft, we improvised with just cardboard cut into a fish shape; red (cut into long and short strips), yellow (cut into a fish shape) & black (for the eyes)  construction paper; glue; and scissor. It was fun, and turned out great. 

Besides making the fish, Lina<3 learned about how yellow (gold), and red are good luck the Chinese New Year, and for Chinese people.  Lina<3 learned her some of her colors. Lina<3 is ready for the New Year, she has been saying “gong xi gong xi” (congratulations in Mandarin) and bowing as she says it.  After we done with the fish, we played with the fish :)  These fish are going to PorPor's house as a gift for them...shhhh do not tell them ;)

Here are some more art and craft projects (click on the links below): that we are looking into doing in the next two days or so:

more fish craft;

coloring pages   are extremely simple and easy to do, and  here are more coloring pages;

dragon art work (it looks really interesting to do and I think that Lina<3 would enjoy this a lot) and more dragon;

firecrackers (I am going to use toilet paper rolls and ribbons for this projects, possibly paint);

lanterns (Oh I love lanterns, I remember making them as a child, I would totally make this), lanterns here and here is a tutorial about lanterns;

zodiac animal book;

chinese drums;

and one stop shop for Chinese New Year art/games/fun .

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Countdown to 2014 Chinese New Year - 5 Days Left - Events around the NYC

As the Year of the Snake slithers away in a few days, the Horse will gallop into the Chinese New Year.

Here are some events that will highlight the 2014 Chinese New Year with NYC area: (mark your calendars)
 Date : January 31, 2014 | Friday | 11:00am
 Location : Sara Roosevelt Park (Grand & Forsyth St.)

The parade is the highlight of the Chinese New Year celebrations in Flushing. Look for dragon dancers, steel drummers, and fireworks. About 4,000 people march each year.

Viewing Stands: TBD, usually at Flushing Library (Main and Kissena) and at the parade's end. Most people watch on Main St.

Route: Begins, Union St and 37th Ave and usually ends at Main St and 39th Ave.

  • When: February 8, 2014. Start time is 10 a.m.

The site below has more listings of events:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

All About Serena:)

To My little Serena:)

You are three months old now. As I just put you down to sleep, I can't believe that you are three months already. It felt like it has happened so fast, just like how you entered my life pretty quickly. I am so in love with you. You been developing so fast, and growing so fast. There are a lot of smiling, cooing, "ah" sounds, and some laughter (you laughed for the first time with Mommy yesterday night while Mommy was playing with your hands). During playtime, you enjoy playing with your toys that Mommy hung on your bassinet, and as well as tummy time (which needs to be at the exact time when you are in a good mood,  has a full belly, and diaper has been changed). I am enjoying every moment with you especially when it is just the two of us.
Today, you had smiled at Lina jie jie while she tried to put your pacifier back into your mouth. It was the cutest thing to see. You love your sister so much. I can tell that you can not wait to play with jie jie because whenever she is nearby, you always listen out for her, and watch her intently. Lina jie jie loves you as well. She is learning to be more careful around you, and not be so wild. I love watching the two of you together - when Mommy allows it.
I love watching you sleep, whenever I get the chance to. I just love you so much.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

As the year begins

It is already the 12th day of 2014.  What have been happening besides the crazy weather with a lot of snow to start off the new year, heavy rain, windy and chilly weather, cold and warm temperatures...  In our household, it has been a little wild with Lina<3 being very active, and throwing tantrums daily, and Serena being quite tranquil, crying when she needs something.

Lina<3 is two now, and can tell you so when you ask “how old are you?”  Temper tantrums are daily with whining, crying, pretending to cry, stomping her foot, saying “no” and screaming. My trick to calm her down is to hold her, when she is crying and talk to her when she is not crying hysterically.  When she is crying hysterically, I would let her cry it out, and walk away from her (but not too far), but that does not always work as it is hard to heard cry, and I always want to hold her when she gets that way. There are some many words that she uses daily, to form to short sentences/questions (three to five words) to express herself. Also, so many words that she is learning every day. She is polite, and has manners (and that how we taught her to be) by saying thank you, and please; greetings in the morning with ‘good morning” and at night time with “good night”; and showing her how to sit properly in her chair.  My little girl is growing up so fast. She is such a big girl that she wants to do things on her own, such as learning how to take off her clothes, and put on her clothes; how to button her buttons; zipper her zipper; brush her teeth, and how to spit when brushing her teeth; how to blow her nose; how to blow her hot food; how to eat food on her own; how to cover her mouth when she coughs or sneezes –sometimes, lol; and how to wipe her tears after she cries and tell herself “Don’t cry” in Chinese. Within the last week or so, Lina<3 has become less whiny, which is good for all of us – as she is learning to express herself more :)

My little Serena:) is so cute! She has grown so big, and so fast. She also three months old. There was smiling since the first few weeks of birth. Alertness began after the 3-4 weeks old. After she turned one month old, she started to develop her social smile whenever we play with her. Her first laugh was over the Christmas holiday (in 2013). She had coo-ed the week before 2013 ended. Now, she is smiling, laughing, cooing, staying up longer between naps, and want more attention as well as playtime and tummy time. Tummy time is going well – she is picking up her head more, and holding it up longer. She is beginning signs of wanting to reach for her toys while on her tummy. She recognizes her daddy and I. The last week or so, there’s a cry that just seemed to have no reason for, from what I can tell, which led me to believe that she could be teething when nursing, diaper change, holding, does not seem to soothe her.