Monday, December 30, 2013

Parenting Picks: Yes Day

 Liquid Lunch

'Yes Day' was born today from having chores to do and not being able to get my busy O busy on her own project. Sadly, when she was wee, 'Yes Day' was most days. I understood her need to explore and be curious meant rich-learning experiences, so we avoided using 'no' and replaced it with words like 'danger' or 'gentle' when we had to set some limits.
Nowadays, 'no' happens more frequently, if I let it take over.
But when I consciously throw in a 'Yes Day' I remember quickly how all of us win.

 Soap Soup

O's exploration involved a lot of liquid soap; 'Soap Soup' as she informed me, that she was making for her Cabbage Patch doll. 
Soap was everywhere. 
She was thrilled and I never said a thing. 
She kept retrieving containers and over-filling them.

I kept reminding myself how clean my floors would be...for once!
And to see O happily and heartily involved in her efforts was well worth the soap-rink she created!

'Yes Day' is a nice way to end the year...and I think I'll incorporate them into my resolution for 2014.

Hubby's always want in on their own personal 'Yes Days' beware!

Just for Today. This poem was brought to my attention years ago, by my dear friend Jurga. It was written by the mother of a boy with autism. A gentle reminder to parents how to loosen our life for the privilege of having children in it.

Write a personalized 'Just For Today' based on the curiosities and interests of your own children.
"Just for today, I will smile when you wake up crying and scoop you in my arms until you feel relaxed.
Just for today, I'll remember to let you turn on the lights, flush the toilet, start the heater, play the music...because you feel so helpful when you contribute to our day.
Just for today, I'll let you eat oatmilk and oats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 
Just for today, I will nuzzle your neck with my nose, every time I think of you.
Just for today, I'll not set a limit on how many books I can read. You keep bringing them and I'll keep reading them.
Just for today, I'll remember how I longed for you and what a privilege you are."

Sunday, December 29, 2013



We celebrated our 6th Christmas in Shanghai.
There is no snow and it's relatively quiet; free of the usual bustle in the West.
Leaving the stress of the holiday behind, allows us to stay in our jammies all day and play; the best tradition we have been able to honour while abroad.


Our growing big girl was not at all interested in gifts, but rather the opening of packages. 
Daddy took this opportunity to fully enjoy the contents!
Thanks to Auntie for the fab dress-up animals!

A remarkable impersonation of a cow.

 First Christmas

Baby C enjoyed her first Christmas Day plus 100-Day Celebration.


Big sister will no longer pose for pictures, unless Baby C is in...

 ..and Baby C is more than happy to have her photo taken!
Note the big sister finger on her cheek!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy 100 Days

Traditional Tiger Slippers

Not only is today Baby C's first Christmas, it is her 100 Day Celebration!
100 Days is traditional to Chinese & Korean culture.
It is usually celebrated with family and friends at a restaurant and serves as the equivalent of a co-ed baby shower. This is often the first time people are meeting baby since birth. 
Loads of gifts with Tiger emblems are popular, as tigers are said to protect baby, but these Tiger Slippers can be found all over China, handmade with tiny bells attached.

Chinese believe that baby's near-year in utero counts as the first year of life.
So technically, 100 days is approximately 1 year old, according to this custom.
This also means that according to Chinese, you are a year older than you think you are!
So we generally forfeit this custom and stick to our Western age calendar!

Happy 100 Days
Merry First Christmas, Baby C!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hear Those Sleighbells!

 Daddy's Holiday Masterpiece

All the girls have been sick for the holidays.
Daddy has been spared.
So he happily went to work on his surprise gingerbread creation, while we all looked on and placed our guesses.

The results were brilliant!
Thanks Daddy!!
Resident Cookie Tester!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Vegan Bites: Sneaky Squash Soup

 Easy Peasy Sneaky Soup!

O loves pureed squash.
We never fed her pureed foods, but discovered that she would not eat squash without it being mashed to bits.
I got a bit sneaky this week, combining this preference with her need for extra protein. The results are extra yummy and even the worst of chef's cannot mess this up. Trust me. I should know!

Sneaky Squash Soup
~2 squash, peeled and cubed
~1-2 cups red lentils
~water to cover
Boil until soft.
Puree when cool.

The trick with this soup being simple but tasty is in the squash.
It has to be dense, rich in flavour and autumn orange in colour. If the squash is just right, the taste is amazing.


The lentil flavour is very mild and goes unnoticed when pureed.

Spice of Life. You can definitely spice up this recipe (we added a little Pumpkin Spice on top) as desired. Warm spices like nutmeg, cinnamon & cloves would go well.

Nutrients. Adding alternative milks that are fortified (oatmilk, soymilk, almond milk etc.) or other orange veggies (yam, carrot etc.) can increase the nutrient value and make a meal out of this recipe.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Night on the Town: Christmas Lights

Twas a few weeks before Christmas...
and we went out at night to see the lights.
This was a big treat for the big girl, who never see's the nighttime! 
Baby C stayed content and sleeping in the carrier!

 Kissmas Tree

Xintiandi Village is the closest spot to see the lights.
It was only 5pm, but dark in Shanghai!
The tree above is the centerpiece of this year's Xintiandi theme "Merry Kissmas".
For every couple that kisses while holding the magnolia mistletoe, another light beams bright.
This requires electrical shockwaves and since we were both carrying children, we opted not to help light the tree!

 Best Seat in the House!
When we arrived, a Chinese Children's Choir was performing.
We speak only mediocre Mandarin, but we're pretty certain they were Chinese Christmas Carols!

Urban Soup Kitchen

We frequent this soup & sandwich stop on Madang Lu by day, but it was definitely more brightly lit by night.
O and Daddy are waiting on our paper bag take-out order. The tiny deli-style restaurant was packed full of people, so we took our sandwiches home to eat by our own Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Origami: Himmel od Hoelle

Old School Origami

Back in the old schoolyard, prior to video games and cell phones, kids still played marbles, skipping and "Himmel od Hoelle" (German translation: Heaven or Hell) with squares of paper. It also goes by the name 'Cooty Catcher', so I'm not sure which is the lesser of two evils!
At that time, we used this origami fortune teller to determine if we'd live in a mansion or a cardboard box...and how many kids we'd have. When I told my husband O and I were making these, he knew exactly what I was talking about.

Red Ted's Art is a fabulous site for idea's. They offered this "Himmel od Hoelle" video tutorial

Bird's Beak

This origami doubles as a birds beak for a quick puppet craft. A
dd eyes, feathers and a tongue inside.

Game Time

Instead of helping O envision her future, under the flaps we wrote 'activities' such as: jumping, running and kissing her parents and sister!

VeganBites: Banana Snowpeople


Thank-you Pinterest for another quick and easy activity to start the day!
Banana's and a skewer are the 'staples'. 
You can get creative for arms, hat, buttons & eyes etc.

Peel & Stick

O helped peel the banana's and stick them on the skewers (which was more of a challenge than I anticipated!) She loves pretzels, so most were eaten and she didn't understand why we should turn them into arms!
Lots of opportunity to sneak in math lessons: counting, adding and fractions (half, quarter etc.)


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Parenting Picks: Song for a Fifth Child

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
by Ruth H Hamilton

When I am old, there is one thing I will not regret; how much I have held my girls.

Some days it seems absolutely nothing gets accomplished except for a whole lot of breastfeeding, bouncing and cuddling. In fact, I am sure there is a biological reason that babies need to nurse so frequently (besides the fact that tummies are small!) Keeping mommy busy nursing prevents her from doing other things that take her away from her all-important job of supporting her relationship with her baby. 

Any time the house is upside-down, food is not made and nothing is in order...we're enjoying each others company.

TP Snow Family

Daddy & Baby C

Got TP rolls and ten minutes, you can make yourself a Snow Family!
We used electrical tape for the hats, googly eyes, felt strips for scarves and mitts and a few beads or buttons.

I asked O to say 'CHEESE' for this picture of her, to which she replied:
"She can't smile! She's made of paper!"

Snowpeople Sensory Bin

Colourful Pom Pom Snow

It's been a while since O enjoyed some time in a sensory we threw in some coloured pom-poms for some indoor Shanghai snow!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Parenting Picks: Shutterfly

No Way!?

This year's Christmas book is in!!
O enjoys looking over the year and laughing at her own antics as much as we do:)

The Real Deal: Tree Time

 The Real Tree...

For our 6th Christmas in Shanghai, we've treated ourselves to a real Christmas tree!
Friends tested their fake tree for lead content last year and the results were painfully high so we tossed our's and have been on a search since for a place to buy a real evergreen.
It cost a small fortune, but we can rest easy that it's lead-free.

...and faux fire!

Our video fireplace scene is still as fake as fire gets!
But takes remarkably realistic photos!

Our House: Grandparents & Gingerbread



Grandparents visited for O's third birthday party. They were not in Shanghai very long, but we seemed to manage a lot in a short time; puppet show, pretzels (courtesy of Framma, all the way from Canada), music class, two toddler parties, Yu Gardens, breakfast in Xintiandi, the Pudong antique market (Daddy & Frampa), chimes made from light fixtures (courtesy of Frampa)...and loads of playtime for the newly minted Big Sister.

Real Birds Nest from Frampa

Grandma reads  O "The Best Nest" on before coming to SH he managed to find a bird's nest (sans birds!)

Frampa's Windchimes

Monday, December 9, 2013

German Christmas Fair

Prime Seating

It's our scond year attending the annual German Christmas Fair at Shanghai's Pauleaner Pub.
Fair's are not common here in Shanghai...and we miss all the holiday fair's in Canada, so we jump at the chance to visit fair's in SH.

Sparkly Stuff

Hand-painted Ornaments

Loads of stuff to buy, but we go for the food, wine and playground with jungle gym (also a rarity in SH!)

Jungle Love!