Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

Gong Hay Fat Choy! Chun Jie Kuai Le!  
Happy New Year!! 

We had a fun first Chinese New Year as a family.  This is the big holiday in China --also known as the Spring Festival, since the weather is supposed to warm up after CNY.  It's now the Year of the Ox in China.  I wonder what this year will bring, since AK was born in the Year of the Pig, and the Year of the Rat was when she came home to us. 

The day itself was pretty ordinary-- it was a teacher workday for us, so I took the day off and scheduled several appointments for me and Mark. AK went to daycare because all of our appointments were definitely no fun for a one-year-old, which means it would be nearly impossible for the parents of the one-year-old to get everything done! Mark ended up going in to school for a couple of hours anyway, so we met at lunch and had a productive afternoon.

I have to admit, we were pretty light on the CNY traditions this year. Honestly, we just don't have the time or budget right now to do a lot of extras and some of my ideas had to be put on the back burner for another year. Fortunately, AK is really too young to be super-interested in holiday books, movies and decorations, or to help me make treats and crafts. I'm glad we have years ahead to add to our CNY traditions! I thought we had a great celebration anyway, because we spent it with Allison, David and Maggie last night.

In honor of the holiday, AK wore her red "Made in China" t-shirt to "school" (we bought it in Guangzhou and it's barely been worn so it's practically new, despite the fact that I managed to get bleach on the side of the shirt-- not too noticeable) to "school" and I wore a favorite red turtleneck sweater. We headed over to the Maladys for supper and festivity, in the form of playing with the girls, watching the CNY episode of "Ni H*ao, Kai-L*an" and just hanging out.  We ate a yummy dinner of orange beef, Hunan chicken, sticky rice, spring rolls, Jiaozi (dumplings), and Buddha's Delight. (Yay for take-out!! No cooking is a fabulous holiday!!)

The girls got red envelopes with the traditional gift of money from Allison and David, and my mom sent along little red silk boxes with money in them as her CNY gift to them. They were excited to open all their loot! (Thanks, Nana!!)

After dinner, Allison and I thought it would be fun to get the girls dressed in their silk dresses and have a little photo shoot. Maggie, who is 3 and generally a very compliant child, bounced upstairs and had her dress on in a flash. AK, who was incredibly overtired due to a big weekend, a long day at daycare, and only a half hour nap, began pitching a royal fit as soon as Mark and I started wrestling her into her dress. Turned out that I missed opening a snap and a zipper, and the dress probably was squeezing her a bit. Ooops. Also, she has apparently outgrown her size 1 silk outfits and now wears a size 2.  Thank goodness I brought a backup outfit!

The photo session was as usual, a real show...

Could they BE any cuter??  (Go visit Allison's blog for more cuteness!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sorta Wordless Wednesday

Recently overheard at the House of the Snickerdoodle:

Me (pretending to hear the phone): "Ring, Ring!! Hello? Oh, hi Nana! Do you want to speak to Anna Kathryn? Ok, here she is!"

Anna Kathryn: "Ya ya ya ya! Mama mama mama! Buh-bye!!"

Repeat for at least 2 minutes, until the 14-month-old attention span turns elsewhere. Anna Kathryn loves to chat on her cell phone!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winter Blast 2009

Today we had our first snow day in a long time!!  Yesterday we got all excited about the possibility of snow when we heard the forecast.  Mark and I did our snow dance (think Elaine from Seinfeld crossed with the "Lawnmower") and Anna Kathryn looked at us like we were crazy.   I even wore my ancient and beloved wool snowflake sweater yesterday, which is my snow day good-luck charm.  Mark woke up at 3:30 and saw a few flakes but nothing much... but when the alarm went off at 5:45 there was lots of snow and school had been canceled!!

We got Anna Kathryn up, and showed her the snow falling outside.  She stared at the flakes for a while, intrigued.   After we had a family cuddle in our warm, cozy bed,  we ate breakfast and then began getting dressed in lots of layers to brave the cold.  Anna Kathryn was a little bit sweaty by the time she was all bundled up.  

She and Mark went sledding (no judging the cardboard "sled"!)...

Anna Kathryn and I made a snow angel:

And then we let her try to make a snow angel herself:

We also tried to build a snowman, but the snow was so powdery that it just fell apart.  

And she was curious about the snow....

...but really didn't want to actually touch the snow all that much.  Seems she and I are quite similar in our feeling about snow.  We love to watch it come down and enjoy being in it for about 10 minutes, then it's time to head indoors and break out the hot chocolate!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What I Did on My Christmas Vacation

Well, it wasn't blogging, was it?? :-)  We spent Christmas and New Year's in FL with my family. All 4 generations were together at some point during Christmas and Christmas Week: my grandparents, my parents, aunt and uncle, my sister and her family and us.  My folks have a big house and we filled it up.  Truly the best part of it all was after the hustle of traveling and Christmas Eve/Day had passed and the family all just hung out together and played with the 3 girls.  Having our daughter at home with us at long last was really the best present I could ask for, and Christmas was even more meaningful as I held my daughter throughout the candlelight service.  (Not that I had a lot of time to reflect, what with trying to keep her from crawling up to the pulpit to see Pop-pop as he preached or from chewing on the candles.)  

Since then, we stopped on our way back to NC for a nice overnight visit with another family we traveled with to China.  Their daughter is so adorable and it was great to see how well she has handled the many adjustments she's faced in the past few months.  We really enjoyed the time to chat and catch up with L. and S. -- we appreciated their hospitality and are looking forward to hopefully making a stop at their house a tradition when we go see my folks!  

Anna Kathryn definitely enjoyed her first Christmas with us.  I have no idea how, or if, Christmas was even celebrated at the Poyang SWI, but in any case, she was less than 2 months old last Christmas and wouldn't have had a clue.  She liked Alie's gift from Santa more than her own, but we figured she would need to grow into it.   She did chew on the baby Jesus several times and was intrigued by the angel, which lit up when you pressed down on it, and the song "Away in a Manger" played.  AK does love the musical toys!  Emily had great fun later on making up lots of stories about the Bible characters.  

She cooed and squirmed through Christmas Eve service and got to meet a sweet girl in my dad's church who is also Chinese.  She was interested in our birthday party for Jesus for the first few minutes and actually listened to my dad read the Nativity story from the Bible, then proceeded to empty our stockings systematically.  Hee hee.

Anna Kathryn took a little while to get used to everybody (velcro baby at first), but eventually was toddling between people and blowing kisses and getting hugs.  She absolutely loved playing with her cousins:  Emily was so patient with her and willingly shared lots of her new toys.  Alie, at 4 months, didn't do much but look at AK.  She did cringe a bit every time AK came too close, since a lack of fine motor skills  and an abundance of curiosity meant that Alie got bopped in the head a number of times by AK.   AK's favorite word is "mama" and she kept looking at my sister (we do resemble each other, and sound a lot alike) and saying, "Mama?" with this quizzical look on her face.  Too cute!  She played a lot of peek-a-boo with Nana and is now a fan of riding on Nana's scooter with her.  She loved romping with Pop-pop, and totally charmed my grandparents and aunt and uncle.

Big news:  she took her first steps on December 29th, to much applause and cheering from the entire family!

She rolled with the changes in routine and household pretty well, especially considering we had just completely changed her routine when she started daycare.  The last few days of the trip she was somewhat cranky more often, but mostly was her usual good-natured self.  She just didn't sleep as well away from her crib.  We tried to keep her routine as semi-normal as possible, but it really wasn't possible.  But, I think she loved being with mama and daddy and the family all day -- I know I loved it!!  Eventually, she did run out of steam.  

So, pictures.  I have LOTS, thanks to my sister giving me copies of her files to add to my own.  That was part of my mental block about even getting around to posting about Christmas. I'm definitely going to have to post in installments.  

Added at 10:30:   Today is Mark's birthday!  Unfortunately, the Panthers lost last night and he has a bad cold, so the celebration was rather subdued.  I feel so blessed to celebrate another year with him!  Happy Birthday, honey!