Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Valentines, Swimming, Etc...

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day! Here are random photos from last week to the present...
Miyah made some window cling hearts and flowers.

Sister hugs. Mei Lin is in there somewhere, too.

Miyah's decorations (notice dog collar and bunny ears)

It "snowed" on Wednesday and the girls were SO excited. Really, there was snow covering the deck and nowhere else, but you'd think we were in a winter wonderland they were so excited. Miyah scraped off every square inch of snow and put it in a ziploc bag. Her "snowball" is in the freezer. When she came inside she talked for an hour about how fun the snow was and asked why Nana and Bumpa get all the snow and we don't get very much.

Valentine morning, Megan and I had a surprise waiting for us. What a sweet husband and father we have! The little girls got balloons (below) and Matt got a gas card and candy.

Later that morning, it was award day at gymnastics.

All those are just for our immediate family. That's a lot of love...and glue and construction paper.
Megan got a purse, candy, and scrapbooking stuff.
The girls got candy and some toys...
....and ballooons. I don't know why the balloon looks like it has three eyes, but it really is a two-eyed ladybug.

Matt was off on winter break and Pat was home, so we all went for a Valentine's lunch.

. Miyah tried to eat her banana while posing with her balloon. The girls are dressed and ready for Sara's Valentine's Day party!

Okay, so I forgot to take pictures until it was time to leave the party. Our neighbor, Jennifer had a beautiful table set with treats and I forgot to get a picture of it. The girls had fun playing with the neighborhood kids and I enjoyed talking with the moms.
(below) Sara, Mei Lin, Miyah
Mmmm....Sara's cupcakes.

Just too cute not to post. Look at those bangs. The girls had hair appointments a couple of weeks ago to have their hair trimmed and Mei Lin screamed and thrashed enough that Allison only got one cut, then I told her to just leave it and I'd finish when I got home...not a good plan! Mei Lin has an extremely high hairline and I don't know what part of her hair on the top should be bangs and sides, so I left a bunch to grow on the side, but they keep hanging in her face.
What was the drama about??? I think the fact that she'd had shots at the doctor the week before made her terrorized of the chair and stranger messing with her.
Saturday morning we heard Mei Lin yell, "Somebody help, please!" Daddy went into the living room to see this....

Matt and Megan playing the Wii

The girls started swimming lessons this week. Neither of them were too excited about it, but even amidst tears they managed to do what their teacher asked them to do. They go for short lessons every morning and the second day they let them go under while trying to get them to reach for something like the top pool step, holding them all the while though. Well, Miyah's scream reached an all new decibel. She'd screamed so hard she popped blood vessels around her eyes! She's immediately relieved when she gets out of the water and yesterday she said, "Fish are the bravest animals ever!" I thought her new appreciation for fish amusing.
Mei Lin cried and said "all done...mommy" each time she'd come up. I had to smile and clap and pretend I wasn't nearly crying myself. I was warned that the first week or two are hard, but I watch the other children who've been there a while and they're learning an amazing life-saving skill even as young as 1 year old. We have a pool in our neighborhood and last year Mei Lin had very little fear of the water, so I knew she needed to learn to swim. Miyah has an unhealthy extreme fear of water in her face, so I hope this helps her, as well. The fact that we're staying in a house in Florida with five doors leading to the pool is an incentive, as well.

I think that's enough for a while. Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

One Fine Day

I think you'd probably agree that it's easy to remember all the highlights of our children's growing up years, like birthday parties, holidays, and the sort; but it's not so easy to remember the "stuff" that make up the "everyday". You know what I mean? I think I have a different perspective now that I have two teenagers and two little ones. I now know that I won't remember A LOT of just normal life with my kids. Sad, isn't it?
So, every once in a while I document a day. I simply write down our routine that day and what the kids did and the funny things they said, etc. It's fun to go back and read it. And I think it helps me remember the daily grind.
Well, I've never shared one of these days here, but yesterday I did a little bit of a photo-documentary and I thought it would be fun to share it here.
Please excuse any grammar or spelling mistakes as my spell check isn't working and I don't have time to proofread it right now.
February 12, 2008
The girls woke me up this morning at about 7 AM. I'm supposed to get up before them to do all the things you like to do before your kids wake up, but once again, I didn't. My alarm usually goes off at 6AM, but this morning my fingers frequented the snooze button. Honestly sometimes I don't even remember hitting the snooze button, but my Two Little Alarms named Miyah and Mei Lin are much harder to turn off. Pat's already gone to his men's Bible study and I didn't even hear him get ready and leave (as usual).

Before my eyes are even open the girls ask for their vitamins. They're basically morning-approved candies. While chewing vitamins, Miyah straps on her roller skates. She is roller-skating-crazy with the Dora skates she got for Christmas. Mei Lin is jealous and can't wait until she's old enough to skate, too. Miyah actually did a jump and twirl thing on her skates, one of which landed her on her rear. While I'm cleaning up breakfast, Miyah wants to "do school", so she takes out her "Happy Phonics" program and reads some of her books. This earns Miyah a gum ball. Mei Lin pretends to do the same. Look at the last picture below. I saw Mei Lin doing this and asked if she wanted something from the refrigerator and she said, "No, I usside down Mommy". She was just enjoying being "usside down".

Some more of Mei Lin's antics....

I ran upstairs to get a phone (which seem to only be on the floor I am NOT), and come down to see Mei Lin on top of the table with the Chinese knot thingy off of the chandelier and in her hand. When she sees me and hears me ask her what she's doing, she tries ever so hard to put it back up on the chandelier.

While I'm blowing my hair dry later, Miyah came in crying that Mei Lin hit her with her blankie (one of the reasons to wake and get ready before the kids). Well, I asked her, "Do you have an owie or hurt feelings?" She said hurt feelings, so I went into the other room to ask Mei Lin to say sorry and I find her in this position below...that's a time-out spot. She'd put herself in timeout...she knew she was caught.

Everytime I give the girls a snack or a cup of water, they head for the play house. Usually Mei Lin will say, "Miyah, HOUSE??" and they'll run off giggling to eat their snack in the house. I peeked in on them today and they were doing something I've seen before and you may recognize if you have an avid Cinderella fan in your house. They're drinking their water like Lucifer, the cat, drinks his milk in the movie....dripping from their fingers and catching it in their mouths.

After snack, we read The Runaway Ricecake. Miyah is a fan of the Gingerbread Boy, so I thought this would be a good book to give them for Chinese New Year. Sharing issues are quite common at our house, with Mei Lin being the one to typically have trouble with it. Well, the pictures say it all....(you may have to click on it to enlarge and see the story unfold)
After the story, we made nian gao, a rice cake for Chinese New Year. I started with the baked version, but wanted to experiment with the steamed nian gao...more on the steamed one below. Obviously this isn't the dry, crunchy puffed diet-torture fare we Americans think of when we hear "rice cake". It's made with rice flour and is a cake...kind of. You'll see in the last picture, they're watching the cake bake, waiting for the rice cake to jump up and run away.

The glutinous rice flour reminds me of something Miyah said at the international market a couple of weeks ago. We were there to pick up some things for Chinese New Year right before our FCC party and she noticed all the Chinese people speaking Chinese. She said, "Mommy, there are a lot of Chinese here, we need to speak Chinese." Then she went on to say, "All these people are Chinese, but we're not Chinese." She knows she's Chinese, of course, so I said, "But you and Mei Lin are Chinese." and she replied, "No I'm not". It wasn't the place to argue with her, but we did have another conversation at home and now she tells us, "I'm both Chinese and American...I'm two things. You're JUST American." It's interesting to hear what's going on in those little heads. I also have an interesting conversation from last week about orphanages and birth mothers, but I'll save that for another post.

Anyway, we ate lunch while the cake baked and Mei Lin begged for a fortune cookie after her lunch. Look at what her fortune said!

You're not going to believe me, but I'm not even lying...

We all ate a few bites of the cake, but no one really loved it. I think I prefer the diet-torture fare. It has a rubbery, gelatiny, sort of texture...if I made it right.

Pat came home sometime mid-morning not feeling well and headed to bed for a quick nap, then worked in and out of his office for the rest of the day.
It had rained earlier in the morning, so....
Puddles + New Raincoats + New Rain Boots = Puddle Splashing

Muddy Puddle Splashing + Falling In = Bathtime

This is what Levi's dish looked like this morning. ( Gross, I know, and I can't believe I'm publicly posting the nastiest item in my house.)
Poor Levi. Don't call PETA, please.
Okay, I'll have to admit that this is partially my fault. Feeding the dog is Matt's job, but I have a hard time coming down really hard on my kids about their chores. I don't know why that is. There are certain things I absolutely don't allow, like bad attitudes, talking back, and anything disrespectful. And in Matt's defense, he was up late the night before writing his thesis and preparing for his presentation and he rushed out the door this morning. I guess I tend to have grace because I know I rush out the door many mornings and don't get all (or any of) my chores done before I leave.

So what's this...A Doodlebop? Scary Smurf? Newest member of Kiss?
Matt came home after his Greek poem presentation and showed off his "Greek mask".

He uses my computer to print his homework, so I was able to read his poem this morning and he gave me permission to share it with you.
My poem is about the hero Timoleon and how he lead an army to save Sicily from barbarians. This poem is written in Dactylic Hexameter, the rhyme scheme is ABAC, DBDC, FBFC, GG.

Tropes: Alliteration; Paradox: Parallelism

(My note: I'm not even sure what all that means)

Tale of Victory
Sing—oh muse—songs of old, telling of heroes both strong and bold. Proclaim,
Sisters of song, tales of Timoleon’s bravery and strength. Tell of the great man,
One called the scourge of tyranny who freed his land from pain and from shame.
Strong Timoleon, great king of Greece, muster men who fight for peace.

Strong men unite for a common cause: victory, valor, and strength.
Set on restoring their country the way it was before war began
Timoleon, Great king of Greece, readied his sword and traveled great length
Braving the sea, storm and treacherous monster to bring safety to Greece.

Reaching land, warriors ready for battle! With sheath empty, Greek charge!
Men of Timoleon brave and courageous, but none fought greater than
King himself, leading the fight till enemy force was no longer large.
Slaying barbarians, leaving not one remaining , their numbers decreased.

Warriors who fought valiantly to defend the weak from evil
Turn ships toward home and sail to Greece to share stories of aggression
Look what Matt got in the mail in just the last two days. Those are letters from colleges and he gets about a half dozen a day.

This is definitely making the reality of college settle in and it makes me sad. I get a little panicky when I think of him not here and off on his own in just a little over a year. How can my baby boy be big enough? He's such a great kid and I'm so proud of him. He works very hard at school or whatever he does. He's definitely a teenager, but he's also a very ambitous, generous, sweet hearted young man.

Megan had tutorial classes this morning and like Pat, came home not feeling well. She's had a bad cold/flu for a few days now. I told her to go rest because she sounded and looked terrible. That meant I didn't have any home schooling to do this afternoon...a little break for me!
This is Megan getting ready to go to ballet. She didn't dance because she wasn't feeling well, but she said she couldn't miss because they were choreographing for their performance. She refused to turn around so I could take her picture.

So , here's the steamed nian gao I made while all the girls napped. It didn't pull away from the sides of the pan like the recipe said, so I just kept steaming that thing. Not sure if it worked. The stone pan may have been a problem. Click on the photo below and you can see Miyah and I playing tug-o-war with it. It was such a strange texture. Miyah and I actually tasted it. Miyah spit her piece out in the garbage disposal and the disposal couldn't even handle it. When I went to run the disposal later it sounded like a rubber ball bouncing around in there and I had to take it out.
The girls are magnetically attracted to dish water. If they spy me doing dishes, they are right at my heals with their stools and I have to squeeze myself in to actually wash the dishes while they play in the water. It'll keep them busy for least long enough for me to watch some of American Idol while folding clothes.

Miyah and Mei Lin's friend, Elizabeth, sent them valentines today. I asked Mei Lin to show the camera her heart (meaning the Valentine heart) and look where she pointed...

Finally there's teeth brushing, drawing hair ties (whoever picks the knotted hair tie gets their book read first), books, then prayers, snuggle time, and hopefully sleep.
By the way, that was the first time we read "Oliver" and it was one of the stup..est (I tell my kids not to say the word) book I've read in a long time. When Matt was little his favorite book was Danny and the Dinosaur and since this was the same author I thought the kids might like it. More of a mundane early reader than bedtime story. We do love Goodnight Gorilla.

Since the kids got a late nap with all the puddle splashing and unexpected bath, they went to bed kind of late too..about 9 PM. Pat and I had a "date" at Target to buy the kids Valentine stuff. We didn't get home until after 10 and I realized after I checked email and puttsed around on the computer that I had a meeting with my professor the next morning to discuss my research topic. I had a little researching to do, so I was up until midnight or so.

Well, there's just a little glimpse of life at our house. Any mom knows that this is pretty much the daily grind...but I didn't even highlight the cooking, cleaning, diaper changes, laundry, etc. But I love my life and can't imagine it any other way. I LOVE being a wife and mom. I have the most amazing family and they make the job worth every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears.

"Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs...since payment is pure love." Mildred B. Vermont

That's so true...pure love is better than any paycheck.

Later tonight I'm going to try to add some video from yesterday, too. I videotaped Miyah singing, the girls laughing and fighting and Mei Lin saying "fortune cookie". I know I can't get enough of that.

Monday, February 11, 2008

One Last CNY Celebration (or two)

Saturday was Children's Hope's Chinese New Year Party. It's always fun to catch up with families we haven't seen in a while. Pat was at a meeting and Matt was working, so the girls and I went. But, we didn't stay too long as Miss Megan has a busy social calendar.
About halfway through the meal Mei Lin was upset I wouldn't let her play with her food or something, so she hid her face in the table for the rest of the meal....
she's stubborn, but she couldn't resist peeking every now and again.....

Check out the giraffe boots. Mei Lin couldn't wait to put these on when we got home from the CNY party. She found them at the store the night before and HAD to have them. She was ecstatic and laughed while repeating, "Happy giraffe boots...happy giraffe boots!" Her way of telling us she was happy with her purchase...and hey, shoes make me feel the same way.
Our family CNY celebration Saturday night was so nice. Since I did a lot of cooking for the Kai Lan party, I made Zodiac noodles, potstickers from the freezer, and egg rolls from the deli
Miyah with her "kangaroo" ears. There's a tail, too.

Then the neighbors joined us for the fireworks display!
Here's Ed with Ana.

Hannah, Mei Lin, and Megan
Miyah was SO excited about the fireworks. We almost didn't have them this year, but I'm so glad we did. I guess it's become a tradition now because everyone looks forward to it. (Ella and Miyah below)

Everyone but Mei Lin, that is.... she hid her face in Renee's shoulder.