Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lions, Love, and (Child) Labor

Happy Year of the Rat!!

February 7th marked the beginning of Chinese New Year, and according to the Chinese Zodiac, 2008 is another Year of the Rat. People born in a Rat Year are said to be logical realists, shrewd, charming, ambitious, and inventive. A Rat Year is said to be a time of hard work, activity, and renewal. Traditionally, this is a good year to begin a new job, get married, or make a fresh start of some other sort. I wonder if adding a new child to the family counts??

During Chinese New Year, a local museum hosts its annual Asian Festival. So, we were able to spend an afternoon taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the Asian culture. The festival ended with an assortment of traditional Chinese dances, the lion dance being the grand finale.

The plate dance...

The fan dance...The lion dance...

Brielle is not so sure she likes the lion dancers...

Valentine's Day followed all too quickly on the heels of Chinese New Year (where has February gone, BTW?). February 13th at 9:00 p.m., Max and I joined the swarm of others who were searching for those perfect last minute gifts for the ones they love (trust me...the early bird really does have the advantage here; the rest of us are left with whatever the early birds have cast aside, unwanted).

For Valentine's dinner, it has become our tradition to make heart-shaped pizza. Right before Valentine's Day, I saw an ad that Papa John's was selling heart-shaped pizza, so I decided to delegate my pizza-making to them. Brielle and I listened to Chicago's love songs CD while making our Valentine's jello and cherry cheesecake. There is nothing like "You're the Inspiration" to get you into the Valentine's spirit!

After dinner, Max held the annual presentation of Valentine's gifts to the kids. As you'll see from the pictures, he has them sit backwards on the couch (no peeking) with their hands behind their backs. Brielle joined in as if she'd been doing this forever! Max then places gifts in their hands, starting with small things and moving up to larger things. The kids like to "feel" their gifts and guess what each one is before looking (this might be a significant fact to know before viewing one of the photos below). I'm not sure why we ever started this for Valentine's Day...there was obviously not a lot of thought put into it and there is obviously no significance to any of it...but, it's made it a fun night for all of us!

In position...I can't believe the early birds left some of these...

Look carefully at what Brant is receiving....yes, that is our already been "used", it wasn't really a gift to him...yes, Max is, Brant will probably never trust Max on Valentine's Day again...UGH! Brant was a good sport, though, and after scouring his hands, he was able to laugh about it.

Before closing out this post, I wanted to share some pictures of Brielle, my BIG HELPER! Brielle LOVES to "help you, Mom", and is quite capable at what she does. If I am in the kitchen, she will drag her stepstool to wherever I am working. I have learned to capitalize on this, and she and I will work on dinner together right after lunch. With her stepstool pulled up to the island, she is a master at opening any boxes of food I might need; she can crack eggs; she pours, whisks, and stirs; and is the best spoon- and beater-licker around! Last week, she totally surprised me by folding dishcloths and washcloths just about as well as I do. Truthfully, I do NOT know how she knew how to fold them so well. She just picked them up, one after another, and folded them like I would. I never taught her to do it...she just must have watched me and figured it out. I was shocked! Since then, whenever I have a load of towels out to fold, she grabs all the little washcloths out and folds them! Now, if only I could get my big kids to fold so eagerly and so well!

"Reporting for duty, Mom!" (Grandma you recognize this apron?) Brielle even stacked her folded cloths...

Inspecting her work...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"Seize the Day" (and the irresistably quiet night)

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Last night I stayed up late planning Research Paper assignments for the two big kids. Once I was done, I should have gone to bed, but the house was just too irresistably quiet not to spend some time doing some uninterrupted web surfing. So, I began perusing ALL my favorite blogs, adoption yahoogroups, etc. As any late night web surfer knows, one blog leads to another, and before you know it, the wee hours of the night have passed. I know the internet has a great potential for evil and yuck, but I am constantly amazed at how it provides me with a network of invaluable information --I absolutely can not imagine adopting or homeschooling without it (was there such a thing as adoption and homeschooling before the internet :o)?)

One of the blogs I infrequently visit is Doug Phillips' blog at Vision Forum. Although I don't agree with exactly everything Doug espouses, I do think his vision and voice for the family is something desperately needed in today's society. Last night (or should I say, this morning), I stumbled across the following post on Doug's blog--I hope to make "Seize the Day" the battle cry of each and every morning!

"Seizing the Day for Our Children"
by Doug Phillips at Vision Forum

My children are growing so quickly. And so are yours.
Today, the fair-haired
little boy is tugging at Daddy’s leg, but tomorrow he is a young man of stature,
strength, and potential who will soon be a family leader in his own right. The
pig-tailed little girl who is so generous to Daddy with her butterfly kisses
will suddenly emerge as a woman whose heart will be given to the husband
prepared by God to take Daddy’s place as the human love of her life.

Our time as parents of children is slipping away from us. Each day that passes
without a self-conscious determination on our part to invest great spiritual
resources into their lives and to equip them is a day lost. It is a day that
will never be recovered.

What will be our message to the little boy and
girl? How will we use the brief moments God has given to us to equip them to
stand holy, pure, hopeful, and determined through the cultural tumult of our
budding twenty-first century?

It is the mission of Vision Forum Ministries
to encourage and inspire the Body of Christ to make this time — this season of
precious parenthood — count for all of eternity.

It is why the words of my dear but now departed spiritual son Michael Billings, in his sermon to the future fathers of his own generation, ring so true: “Seize the day.”