Category Archives: holidays

The Year of the Ox

I just went running into my daughters’ room to tell them the one phrase I know in Chinese–Happy New Year. You see, years ago I was engaged to a guy who’s maternal grandparents were originally from China. The relationship with him was a total bust (whew) but I adored his grandmother and I learned how to say Happy New Year.

Man, his family was good to me–but I digress.

Fast forward many years to 2012. Caitlyn and Sue were enrolled at the local elementary school. The school had asked families to unplug for the week. I failed miserably, but the school also sent home some activity ideas. It was this time of year and it was Chinese New Year so I made my first attempt at making Chinese food. I don’t remember the food at all but a tradition was born.

Every year we do our best to make Chinese food for the Lunar New Year.

Caitlyn chose her recipes, I bought the ingredients. She cooked for hours to make us spring rolls, dumplings, and wonton soup. I made beef broccoli (pretty sure that is not authentic but we like it…). Patrice was her assistant in this process. She used carrots and purple cabbage to make the dumplings orange and purple. Making fortune cookies failed us, per usual, but it was fun. Caitlyn wrote little fortunes. Mine was, “You will give Caitlyn money soon”, daddy got, “don’t tell anyone, but I poisoned your food” and Patrice got, “Did you thank Caitlyn for this wonderful food?” Sue also gets to give Caitlyn money…since the cookies failed, I taped everyone’s fortune to a piece of candy.

It was really good and as Caitlyn said, “well, it kept me off my phone all afternoon.” Maybe the school did accomplish something all those years ago… ūüėČ

Fat Tuesday a Day Late

I used to do fun projects in our homeschool.¬† The last year or so I feel like I have gotten lazy–but today I am turning that around…

Fat Tuesday was yesterday, but we were at a field trip, so I am sneaking in our paczki project today.¬† Caitlyn made some from scratch (baked to fried) and we looked up how they are made in a bakery and about a nearby city here that is famous for these big ole jelly donuts…

She set the dough to rise twice, waited for the individual paczki’s to rise, baked them, and filled them with strawberry jams.¬† Her sisters decided to “help out” with the jelly part and the eating part!

Caitlyn used this recipe.

Then we checked out some YouTube to see how it is done on a larger scale.

And no lesson in this house would be complete without a study on immigration and how it grows, changes, and develops our communities.¬† I highly recommend this article!¬† Take a minute to see a bit of reality in how people leave together, grow together and learn from each other.¬† You’ll be glad you did–I’ll be glad you did!!

Happy New Year!!

Back in the day…before hubby…there was this guy.¬† We made it as far as engagement…and then he dumped me via text message.¬† Cool, huh?¬† We’ll skip all the messy details and go with, it was all for the best and I learned how to say hello and Happy New Year in Chinese from the whole situation.

And today is the day I get to use that knowledge!

It is the beginning of the year of the Dog.

Caitlyn made Wonton Soup (so yummy).  I made beef broccoli (in the Instant Pot).  Sue, Patrice, and Caitlyn made a dragon. Sue and Patrice wore their outfits that grandma gave the girls years ago.

Fun was had!!!



It’s All in Fun

An hour and a half is all it took us to get all that loot (and you aren’t seeing Caitlyn’s hall).¬† It was fun.¬† But I am not sure how my oldest feels about it.¬† She went door-to-door but she seemed uncomfortable.¬† Candy is good, but I wouldn’t be surprised if next year she decides it is not worth it.¬† It is interesting.¬† ¬†You could see she was uncomfortable most of the evening, but Sue, just a year younger was all about ringing bells, knocking on doors and saying trick or treat.¬† Two little girls, so very different.

A Bit of Pinterest for Christmas

A friend posted a picture of melted crayon ornaments today. I have seen this many times before on Facebook and Pinterest, but always forget to make them.  There is no other excuse, I mean, we have crayons coming out our ears, I have 3 clear ornaments just waiting for a craft, and there is always our trusty hair dryer that only ever gets used for crafts.

The time was today!

First, you pull the wrappers off crayons, who doesn’t enjoy doing that. then you break them into pieces, put them in a clear ornament and heat.

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Woo hoo, finally did a craft I’ve been putting off…and it took all of 20 minutes…

We Don’t Skip Thanksgiving Here

Sue has a November Birthday.  It often falls very close to Thanksgiving.  She gets really perturbed that the stores go right from Halloween to Christmas.  Where is Thanksgiving people?!  I knew this craft just had to be hers when I saw it.
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That’s right folks, a gingerbread turkey.

Peace and Joy from my family to yours in these days we face.

They Showed Us Up

Saturday hubby and I stepped way out of our comfort zone. ¬†We volunteered to decorate our trunk and pass out candy at our churches’ inaugural trunk or treat.

We pulled out the girls stuffed animals and made a jungle.  I bought three big bags of candy.  Certainly that would be enough.

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Alas, it was not.  We, and the church, ran out of candy in the first 20 minutes.  People from the planning team were immediately sent to get more candy, but what to do with the kids there now?

The girls had gone around to the trunks at the beginning of the trunk or treat and ended up with lots of candy.  As you know, candy is a precious commodity for kids, but ours pulled out the candy they had collected and gave it away as we waited for candy reinforcements.

2015-10-31 15.07.58 2015-10-31 15.08.01Talk about being proud of my girls!  I knew they were amazing but they really showed it Saturday.  I was so proud of them.  I still am.  I told some sweet neighbors down the street, and yesterday, they showed up with this.

2015-11-02 10.21.40They were touched by our girls too and wanted to gift them with this to show when we bless God, He blesses us.

Now, do we need all that candy? ¬†Heavens no, trust me, I’ve already eaten too much of it, but the message behind it is worth every last piece.

Happy Birthday To Me

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This post could go so many directions…so I think I’ll just stick with

Thank you for all the love, support, encouragement and help you have given me to get me to my 40th Birthday!!!  It was such a joy to read each and every Birthday wish yesterday!  Thank you more than words can truly express.


What About Jesus

Hubby read my Sunday blog post, Generation to Generation. ¬†I hold my breath waiting for his opinion when I know he is reading. ¬†He is a great deal more conservative than I about what gets shared with others and what doesn’t. ¬†Believe it or not, I don’t quite let it all hang out, and dirty laundry stays safely tucked away, but I still have a lot more to say than he would prefer.

Beyond all that? ¬†His opinion is the one that really matters to me. ¬†Yes, I write for myself. ¬†Yes, I write for others. ¬†But when he likes something I write? ¬†That’s when it really matters to me.

And when he read Generation? ¬†He found a typo (that has been fixed) and said, “what about Jesus in Christmas? ¬†Doesn’t that matter?”

Yes hubby, there is Jesus in Christmas.

Honestly, when I wrote about decorating and Christmas, I was not intending to diss all of Christmas, just the glitter and glamour.  I could live without a tree up in my house, I could definitely live without two months of Christmas movies on my favorite TV channel and two to three months of Christmas songs on the radio are a bit much.

Most of Christmas, I love.  I love the opportunities to give that it brings out.  I love Operation Christmas Child.  I love taking the girls to the dollar store and filling boxes just as full as we can to send to kids around the world.  I have November 17 marked on our calendar so we get our boxes done and ready to be shipped to kids who most likely will have no other Christmas.

I’m already watching our church bulletin for updates on Angel Tree. ¬†I will be picking three angels off the tree. ¬†Each has a gift listed on it for a particular child. ¬†Buying a gift for a child on behalf of their incarcerated mother or father is one way our family can be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I’m not altogether altruistic. ¬†I also love shopping for my girls. ¬†I used a gift certificate yesterday to start the process. ¬†And I am watching Facebook and Twitter for deal alerts. ¬†It is amazing what different deals people find. ¬†On-line deals tend to save me a bundle.

Beyond the gifts, I love the added freedom Christmas brings us to talk about Jesus.  His name is found on Radio Stations where He is never mentioned otherwise.  Churches have special concerts and programs that people are willing to come to when church is not always on their radar.  I love the candlelight services at church, time to pause where we normally rush through.  I love reading and talking about the Christmas story.

I love having my family to share the holiday with.  I love the extra devotions we do nightly as we put the ornaments on the Jesse Tree.  I am totally enamored with the fun crafts the girls and I can do, the special school studies we can draw upon.

Really, I don’t think it was a dislike of Christmas that was handed down in my family, I think it was just of the decorating and the programming changes that drag on and on. ¬†I love the warm and cozy of Christmas, just not in front of a tree.

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Generation to Generation

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Ho, ho, ho and Merry Christmas weren’t really heard in my house. ¬†Not that we didn’t celebrate the, we did, but it didn’t bring out the best in my nuclear family.

My dad wore Christmas, truly, he worked in the Christmas tree fields seasonally. ¬†And each year, said trees have to be painted green. ¬†Yup, there’s the big secret, the trees are naturally pink, so they paint them green. ¬†Or, they grow green but need to be treated with pesticides which are put in a green “paint” solution. ¬†Yes, yes, yes, the second explanation is a little more logical, but the pink thing? ¬†Way more fun to tell the other little kids in your class when you’re a kid. ¬†Those big eyes when you tell them Christmas trees are really pink–priceless!!

But his Christmas cheer didn’t go past skin deep. ¬†He hated not having money to buy lots of presents. ¬†He really hated tracking back through the lights to find the burnt out bulb. ¬†And he didn’t do any decorating past that.

From that point on, it was me and my mom.  We put up ornaments and cute little decorations around the house.  It was nothing elaborate, but it worked for us.

Then the days of the stupid needles falling off, trying all different solutions to make them stay on longer, the counter weights needed on the tree to keep it from falling over and still hearing the “crash” at least once per season.

My mom would Christmas shop at sales, yard sales, bargain hunting from December 26th on each year.  So we had gifts, but money was always an issue.  Always.  And it made my folks grumpy.  With themselves, with each other, and with the season that taxed an already tight budget.

The days of glitz and lights brought little cheer to our house.  Come Christmas morning I never felt cheated in presents to open, but I knew the season was not a favorite around our house.

The disappointment, the fights, the arguments kept it from being an exciting time for us.

Over the years, my folks went their own separate ways.  My mom found someone who loves decorating for holidays and she continues her skill at shopping year round.  They have their tree up early each year, lights spread around and garland up  and down.

I don’t. ¬†No early here. ¬†None. ¬†I prefer the later the better. ¬†I hate having the furniture moved around to accommodate the tree. ¬†I hate having to tell the girls not to touch or to be careful. ¬†I don’t enjoy the process of getting the tree out of the box, the branches spread out, ornaments unpacked. ¬†The one and only part I enjoy is sitting in the living room with just the tree lights on. ¬†But a week of that is enough.

I have seen more than one post today on Facebook talking about when people put up their tree, with many saying today. ¬†And then there is me–“as late as possible” or “skip it due to lack of interest.” ¬†Too bad that last one is unacceptable. ¬†And the other is out of fashion.

Because me, I’d rather be over here ignoring the bling of the season.