• 2010 Reading List

    What I've read this year:

    "The Other Queen" by Phillipa Gregory (Rating: C)

    "The Welsh Girl" by Peter Ho Davies (Rating: A)

    "Mistress of the Sun" by Sandra Gulland (Rating: A)

Chinese New Year

Gong hei fat choi!

(Roughly translated, that means “Congratulations and be prosperous!”)

This weekend is the festival of the Chinese New Year, and although my family has absolutely no ties to the Chinese culture, I adore this holiday. A few years ago I hosted an event for work including traditional foods, dances, and gifts for the holiday. It is an amazing tradition with a long and complex history, and an endless number of ways in which to celebrate the occasion. After that first encounter, I’ve kept Chinese New Year on my radar, and have looked forward to introducing the Peanut to the festivities.

Lion Dance

Just a few miles from our home is “The Peaceful Dragon.” This is a large facility that teaches Kung Fu, Tai Chi, along with a variety of other martial arts, and it is incredibly authentic to the practices and traditions of the Chinese culture. They hosted their annual New Year celebration last weekend, and we all bundled up and headed over to participate.

The celebration began with the traditional lion dance. Two kung fu students act out the role of the lion, dancing throughout the room, and eventually eating cabbage, then spitting it back out into the audience. If you are lucky enough to get hit with the cabbage, you are looking forward to a prosperous new year! Unfortunately for us, none of our clan got any cabbage…

Dragon dance

Next came the dragon dance, along with the firecrackers that were set off, startling the Peanut, and causing him to jump out of his seat and laugh hysterically!

The school’s students conducted some incredible demonstrations, including using bo staffs, broad swords, fans, and spears. It was incredible to see how they used these weapons in such a beautiful way. One of the things that I love about The Peaceful Dragon is their commitment to the idea that Kung Fu is a personal discipline, and not something that is used to teach aggressiveness. Throughout the demonstrations, they repeatedly mentioned that the students hope to never use their skills outside of the facility, and that the greatest lesson in Kung Fu is the development of self-control. “You cannot make me harm you – that is a decision that only I can make.” What a great thing to be heard in our society – let’s spread that one around some more, please!

They also did a brief yoga demo, which I found very interesting. It was so different than the yoga I am used to, and was amazing to watch.

Yoga demo - head stand - wow!

We are hoping that we will be able to get my two guys into their program over the next year. Alan is really wanting to get into the program, having studied martial arts as a child. And we both think that this would be a great thing for the Peanut as well. He is such a loving and happy child, but he tends to crumble when he feels like he has “failed.” We are continually trying to reassure him that mistakes are good and allow us to learn, but his personality is just so loving and sweet that he is terrified of disappointing others. I can totally identify with that one, and hope that we can help him work through it. We think that the confidence and discipline that comes with martial arts would be a huge boost for him. Hopefully we will be able to swing the fees in the near future, and maybe they will be able to perform at next year’s festival!

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Yummmm…they’re Swedish!

What is the one thing in your life that makes you smile when it seems to be just out of reach? We all have those days when things are just too much. We feel weighted down, exhausted, over-whelmed, and broken. I’ve had a few days like that recently. Work has been exceptionally tough these past few weeks, and I am in need of a change. Unfortnately, the job market has yet to regain its momentum, we don’t have the financial freedom for me to go back to school, and I’m feeling  pigeon-holed. An opportunity may have presented itself, but I am trying very hard to not get my hopes up or put too much pressure on this one thing. So, this week, I’ve not been sleeping soundly, eating more junk than I should, and just feeling down. Until, I see this…

That is, hands down, the cutest and funniest kid on earth – and don’t you dare try to contradict me! 🙂 He brightens our days, and never fails to keep me entertained. Last night, as I sat trying to get our new camera and Skype to communicate with one another, he was in his room playing veterinarian, and singing his own version of “Marvelous Little Toy.” It was adorable, and made me step back for a moment and not worry about work, let go of the frustration with the computer, and just absorb the love that is my little Peanut.

A short while later, we were having a family movie night, and while Daddy was making popcorn, I surprised him with some Swedish Fish as a special treat, which he had not previously tried. He popped one into his mouth, started chewing, and looked at me and said, “Yummmmm…they sure are Swedish, alright!” And that is was the greatest moment of my week!