Sunday, February 23, 2014

Monkey Bar Challenge

One day this week, Rachel's teacher came into my room. She asked with concern, "Is it okay for Rachel to be on the monkey bars?" I laughed, because I knew exactly what she meant. Rae on the monkey bars is a little scary to see. I assured Mrs. A that it was fine, but that it might be best not to watch. I have long since learned that when Rachel decides she is going to do something, it's best to just get out of her way. But sometimes it's also a good idea to look the other way during the trial and error stage because Rae is one tough little daredevil. The monkey bars are the latest challenge.

Rachel swings from her right hand and hooks her left arm over the bar. She can hang like that for as long as she likes.
It's when she has to let go and swing to the next bar that things get interesting.
There are many, many falls and much time spent on the ground.
But Rae just pops back up with a grin on her face and tries again.
Rachel hasn't figured the monkey bars out yet, but I have no doubt that she will!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt

The girls and I have had such fun on our photo walks, that I decided to show them a new way to use their cameras.  It was warm and windy and very spring-like today, so I made them each a list of things to photograph and then sealed them into little zip top baggies and hung them on a yarn necklace.  I had to make Rae's list very simple, so that she could read it herself!
We loaded up and headed for the park.  Katherine was convinced that there would be nothing to take pictures of because it is winter and everything is dead and boring.  She changed her mind. Her list made her notice little details and then suddenly, everything was interesting.
Rachel was just happy to be outside and to have a camera in her hand.  She wandered around shooting pictures and stopping occasionally to consult her list. Most of her pictures were even in focus!
Rachel had 6 items on her list because she is 6.  Katherine had 10 items because she is 10.  And me?  I didn't have a list, but I had no difficulty taking 41 pictures!

The unanimous opinion of this photo scavenger hunt?  It was great fun!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chinese New Year at School

I have been celebrating Chinese New Year with kids at school since Katherine was in kindergarten.  This year I visited half a dozen classrooms to talk about CNY, show off assorted Chinese items, and make art projects. 

Katherine's class made beautiful paper cuts.  She no longer tolerates me pulling out my camera to document the process in front of her classmates, but she liked having me in her room.  She and her 4th grade buddies liked the paper cuts, too.  (Hers is the dragon head.)
Rachel, however, was thrilled with the entire idea.  She loved showing off her silks.

 She loved making a horse. 

She loved having me in her classroom.  She was bursting with pride and pure delight.
Our Chinese New Year celebrations may not be authentic, but they sure are fun! And the pride and excitement my girls feel for their heritage is priceless.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Every year around Chinese New Year I take pictures of the girls in their Chinese silks.  They love their silk clothes so much and I love seeing them wear them.  Yesterday afternoon, while enjoying our Snow Day, I decided it was time to get out the white backdrop and have a photo shoot.  Rachel was first.  As I hung the drop, I kept thinking about the Chinese New Year photo shoot four years ago when Rachel looked like this:
She has grown up so much since then! And in her silks she looks even older. But at least her hair has calmed down! Such a funny, loving, and beautiful girl.
Katherine wanted in on the photo shoot, too.  When we were in China, I bought silk dresses and "pajamas" in every size, but Kate has outgrown them all.  It makes us both a little sad...  So she doesn't have fancy silks to wear, just her favorite clothes - jeans and a T-shirt.  She knew what photos she wanted and picked all her own poses.  She is still my sweet baby, but less and less a little girl every day.

Happy Year of the Horse!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Snow Day!

Yesterday there were predictions of a major snow storm moving through and last night we got the calls that there would be no school today.  So we woke up this morning to a Snow Day!
It really was beautiful! 
There is always something so exciting about a Snow Day.  It just generates such possibility.  So what did we do on this bonus family day?  Well, Steve spent a good chunk of his time clearing the drive.  And shoveling out several neighbors.
The girls and I finished up our daily chores from the Family Chore Chart and Rae did her homework for the week.
Katherine made hot chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting because no Snow Day is complete without dessert.
The girls went outside to play in the snow for a while.

We went out for lunch (because we never just stay home on a Snow Day...) and then the older members of the family took naps.

The girls and I had a photo shoot.

(More photos of that later!)

I read Rachel an entire Junie B. Jones book and we watched a movie.
We spent the evening reading on our own and Steve just started making pumpkin bread. 

It's been a good day and we can do it all again tomorrow, because the girls and I have another Snow Day!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

She's 10!

Years ago I remember looking at a calendar of Chinese New Year dates and noticing that in 2014, Chinese New Year would fall on Katherine's birthday.  I have mentioned this to people and we have talked about it at home.  And then suddenly, 2014 was HERE.  So yesterday we welcomed in the Year of the Horse and my sweet little baby turned 10.  Ten!

Katherine didn't have many requests for her birthday.  She wanted to go out to dinner with all of her family and she wanted to do it on her actual birthday.  She wanted milkshakes instead of cake.  She she wanted a Simon game (the same blinking, beeping toy I had when I was her age in 1982).  And she wanted an electronic chess game.  Pretty easy to take care of those!

What she really wanted and was too afraid to ask for, was a keyboard.  And piano lessons.  When I suggested this very thing a few weeks ago, she was thrilled.  So after all the other gifts had been opened, Granny and Poppy brought in the biggest present.  And my musical girl?  She was beyond happy!
Today was Katherine's friend party.  She wanted a "cooking party" and invited friends from church and school.  Since her birthday falls in the middle of blizzard/ice storm/flu season, she is used to small turnouts at parties (one year only 1 friend made it).  But this year, all 7 friends arrived!

The Cooking Party was at Granny and Poppy's because they have more space and their floors are easier to clean.  This is an important consideration when cooking with 9 grade school kids at once!  Cooking Project #1 was making our own mini homemade pizzas.
While the pizza cooked, we made Cooking Project #2.  Kate picked the local animal shelter as her birthday charity, so we made dog biscuits.  The kids all had to taste them and declared them delicious!
By the time the doggie treats were ready to go in the oven, the pizza was done and we sat down to eat.  And giggle.  And show off a little.
The two boys had to leave early, which made the group much calmer and quieter.  (Boys are just loud.  Especially when they are showing off for girls.)  That was fine, because it meant the girls could spend all the time they wanted on Cooking Project #3.  Decorating cupcakes!

I set out plain cupcakes, six colors of frosting, candies, and assorted sprinkles and colored sugars.  The girls had a grand time icing  and trying out all possible toppings on the same cake .
It was a fun party, but we all went home tired.  I'm pretty sure Katherine was pleased with the celebration of her first decade.

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way