Hard to believe that we are on our last day of February already. Here is what we are planning for dinner this week (BTW, the Quinoa Broccoli Casserole from last week was a big hit! Anderson, my picky eater, ate almost all of his dinner which is huge!).
Sunday: Swedish Meatballsfrom Damn Delicious. Right now this is my favorite cooking site since the recipes are good and so easy to make! This recipe looks a little heavy on the meat, but I wanted to see if they tasted like the Ikea ones. We will also be having cauliflower mashed potatoes with these.
All of last week we learned about Chinese New Year (also called Lunar New Year because other countries besides China celebrate it), since the New Year date was on 2/19/15. The new year is always held sometime between the end of January and the end of February, and is based on the moon.
We started off by talking about how we celebrate our New Year in the United States. Then we read these three books:
I thought that Bringing In the New Year was the most informative out of the three books. It also kept the boys engaged. At the end of the book there is a bit about the history of Chinese New Year written in a kid friendly manner. After we read the three books we compared the similarities and the differences between Chinese New Year to our New Year.
Another day we started making these dragon puppets, but the boys weren’t interested in coloring them, so that project didn’t take off :(.
One Chinese New Years tradition is to give kids money in red envelopes (hongbao). I thought that it would be fun to make some origami red envelopes and give to my boys. I followed this great tutorial:
I made small envelopes because I only had small red paper and I figured that my boys would be happy receiving a quarter. On the envelopes I added the Fú symbol which means “good luck” or “good fortune.”
Here is one my finished envelopes:
On Chinese New Year we went out for Chinese food. We wished our waiter “Happy New Year” and she was surprised that we knew about it.
On the weekend we went to Chinatown to the Chinese Garden to celebrate the New Year.
First we went to the Wishing Tree where we each got a ribbon with a gold piece tied to it. We were supposed to throw it on the tree and make a wish. All of us got our ribbon to stick with the first throw. Other visitors were not so lucky :).
Nathan getting ready to throw the ribbon
Nathan and the wishing tree
Next we looked at all of the red lanterns hanging throughout the gardens (very pretty). At about this time the Lions came out to dance! The Lion Dance is done during the Chinese New Year to ward off evil and bring good fortune. Many people mistake the lions for dragons, but one easy way to tell if it is a lion is to see how many legs it has. The lions only have four legs (two dancers) and the dragon has more. We all really enjoyed the dance very much (the dancer’s seemed to get a great workout)!
After the dance we went out to visit the Sheep pavilion, since it is the Year of the Sheep/Ram. As a fun fact, my zodiac sign is a sheep. My husband’s is an Ox and supposedly we do not make a good match 🙂 One of my sons is a Tiger and again the Sheep and Tiger aren’t supposed to get along well.
Gung Hay Fat Choy! Xin Nian Kuai Le! 新年快樂!
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First, I would like to say something about my absence. I’ve had a lot going on these days. Lots of activities and really a lot of cleaning going on. I plan to add some more posts this week to play catch up!
Here is our menu for this week:
Sunday: Homemade pizza
Monday: Topless Vegan Shepherd’s Pie (from last week)
Wednesday: Wiener Schnitzel with cauliflower mashed potatoes
Thursday: Birthday Dinner for my husband!!! We’ll be having ribeye steaks with veggies.
Friday: Sausage, Potato, and Kale soup from Damn Delicious. I have to just say a little something about this site. I’ve made a few of her recipes and each one has been so easy and fast to make, which is a huge plus for moms. The bonus is that they have tasted good and the whole family eats them. I have a feeling that there will at least be one or more meals from her every week.
Last year in one of the online Waldorf groups that I belong to someone had posted about a weather tree. I had never heard about a weather tree, so I was intrigued. The idea is to have a visual representation of what the weather is like for your family where you live for the whole year. You have a tree with twelve branches that represent a month of the year. On each of the twelve branches you have the number of leaves that correspond to the days that month (a total of 365 leaves, unless it is a leap year). Every day you color a leaf to represent what the weather was for the day. I thought that a weather tree would be something fun to have, especially at the end of the year when you can look back and see exactly how the weather was. This concept is one that is common in the Waldorf community and there are many ways that a family can go about creating one.
I had wanted to buy one to make it easier on myself and I saw this one. I really liked the look of the poster from the UK, but the pricing was too much, especially to be shipped to the US. I looked around on the internet and the other trees out there just really didn’t fit the look that I wanted. I came across a tree that I loved the look of, but couldn’t find any way to purchase a print. My next best option was going to be for me to make one inspired by the one I had seen. I figured that I could make the outline of the tree and then I could have my boys help me color the tree. I wanted to start the weather tree on January 1st, so that we would have a complete record of the year. Well, you’ll never guess what I did? I procrastinated! It was the end of December and I knew that I probably wouldn’t get it done in time. That is when I had the genius idea of using our projector and copying the image of the picture that I really like. I got everything all set up and got to work. It was a quick and easy process to transfer the image onto another piece of paper. Once I got it done Nathan helped me color the tree brown. Then we decided together what color a leaf would be to represent the weather.
A close-up of some of our leaves
We taped up the weather tree in our homeschool area (aka our dining room). Every evening after dinner our family talks about the day’s weather. We then pick out the colors of the leaves that we would use to color in the leaf and proceed to color the leaf. One observation that we made was that the day could have different types of weather. We decided on days when this happens we could split the leaves up so that all of the weather types could be represented. So far January is done and we are working on February. I am very excited to see how the tree looks when the year is over with (I’ll be sure to post a picture).
Will he or won’t he? By the time that this has been posted we will know if Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow or not. Legend has it that if he sees his shadow that means that there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he doesn’t see his shadow then we are supposed to get six weeks of Spring weather. Of course, we all know that this groundhog cannot predict the weather (he hasn’t been found to be very accurate), but it is a fun tradition to see what Punxsutawney Phil will do.
Where exactly did this tradition come from? It’s an interesting one that has some connections to Waldorf. In the Waldorf community February 2nd is celebrated and is known as Candlemas. It is the halfway point between the winter equinox and the spring equinox and the Waldorf community celebrates this with candles (for this religious holiday Priests would bless candles on this day, hence the name). “The celebration of Groundhog Day began with the Germans, Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states “For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May…”. The settlers found that groundhogs were plentiful and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day.” (groundhogday.org) Groundhog Day was first documented in 1841 in Pennsylvania.
Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.
Punxsutawney, PA is the city is the most well known city that celebrates Groundhog Day and the groundhog that is used is always named after the city.
To read some more fun facts about Groundhogs and Groundhog Day you can go to Wikipedia and www.groundhog.org
Happy Groundhog Day and being halfway done with winter!
Before I begin with my review of Paddington Bear I wanted to preface this with my family’s thoughts on media. Since we are going with a Waldorf approach to schooling one of the big ideas that they stress is no media for the younger kids. This idea spoke to us and works for us. Are we 100% media free? No and my husband and I have a hard time weaning ourselves from TV (we don’t have cable or satellite, but we do have Netflix). Our boys will get to watch an occasional video here and there, but it’s not often. This past year my family started a tradition of watching a movie once a month. We usually do this at home and it has been a hit. When we were in London this past November we saw a poster for the Paddington Bear movie. We didn’t know that there was one that was coming out. We had read the original Paddington Bear and we all really enjoyed the book. When we got home we watched the trailer (the one above) and the boys were laughing and it looked innocent enough and it got great reviews, so we decided that we would watch it when it came out.
Opening weekend we went to the theater on a Friday morning and the boys were both really excited about it. It was also fun that this movie was set in London because we were just there and we could point out some of the sights that the boys saw. The movie starts out good and there were some funny parts, but then it got kind of dark. There is an earthquake and Paddington’s uncle dies by being smooshed by a tree (it isn’t explicitly stated or shown) and Paddington’s aunt tells him that he needs to go to London. Paddington gets to London and meets the Brown family who decides to take in Paddington Bear. The movie is funny and upbeat until we are introduced to Nicole Kidman’s character. She finds out that there is a bear from Peru that has just arrived in London. She wants to find this bear and kill it and stuff it because she is an evil taxidermist. She did a good job playing a villain and the scenes with her were a bit scary. My oldest son (six years old) doesn’t do well with scary at all. About an hour into the movie I checked with my son to see if he liked the movie; I wanted to make sure that he was doing okay because I felt that it was a little scary for young kids. He told me that he didn’t like the movie and wanted to leave. I had told him earlier that if there were any scary parts that I would leave with him when he wanted to. I checked with my youngest son to see if he wanted to leave and he didn’t, so he went and sat by his dad while I left with my other son.
My husband and my youngest watched the whole movie and they were not that impressed with it. My youngest probably mentioned a couple of things about it and then moved on to other subjects. My husband told me that basically all of the funny parts were in the trailer (I would have to agree from what I saw). We also talked about how the movie had a lot of scary parts to it and we didn’t know why they put that in there. We understood that movies have a formula of having a villain and the hero has to overcome them, but we really thought that this movie would have worked without that. In the book Paddington gets into a lot of mischief on his own because he was a bear living in Peru and now he is in the city of London and doesn’t understand things. There were so many things that he would do that the boys would laugh and laugh about because it was silly. The parts in the movie where we laughed were the parts where Paddington was doing something wrong because he didn’t know better. I really thought that had the filmmakers gone in that direction it would have been a much better movie.
If you have a sensitive kid I would not suggest watching this movie unless they are a bit older. If you have a kid that isn’t sensitive they would probably enjoy it, but it may not be a movie that they are excited about afterwards. I wish that we didn’t spend our money on this movie. I would definitely wait for it to come out on video.
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