Tag Archive | Chinese New Year

What I Learned About Myself in 3 Weeks…

So it is common knowledge that I got a tattoo the week after our 17 year anniversary. What surprised me is what I learned about myself in the three weeks healing time afterwards.

Day 2 and the beginning of the healing process.

Day 2 and the beginning of the healing process.

  1. Well I definitely don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, it is on proud and vibrant display on my left calf. And I hope people ask me about it. As the wife of a man who has been diagnosed not only with severe depression, but also CAPD, I found my symbol in his fight to control and manage his illnesses. The depression is represented by the semi colon or body of my butterfly. A more and more common symbol of depression and mental illness, it is a constant reminder for me of how I will never truly grasp how close I came to losing my husband and love of my life for ever on 2 separate occasions. Had he chosen to end his story instead of continuing on, my life, and the lives of my children would be very different right now. I have often spoken about how I feel the need to be an advocate for mental health awareness. Two helpful links – Project ; and in case you need help in knowing what to say  Make It Ok.org. Maybe one day someone will see my butterfly while I work out, or on a walk… or even peeking out in a fancy dress and ask me and I will have the chance to listen or share. If I can share my story, Ken’s story and help someone find help or become a source of support… icing on the cake. The other half of the butterfly is a wee bit obvious – maple leaf, Canada: you can take the girl out of Canada, but my origins are a massive part of my personality.Project-Semicolon-760x410
  2. Altering my body permanently was neither as earth shattering or life changing as I expected. Granted when I first got it done and posted it up on Facebook my little corner of the world shared its opinion and got excited. Some were impressed, some quick to admit they would never do the same, others wanted explanation of the image and many were surprised. But, the greater world, life in general… a blip on the radar. And you know what? That was more than OK! I love the reminder that some ink on my body was nothing more than a personal choice that I would now live with forever (proudly I might add). What was way more important is that my own children are super proud of their mom! It was an opportunity to remind them of the struggle dad has with his own mental health, and that it is OK to be sad, to need help. But they also need to be aware that mom really wants them to tell her… any time, any place, and if not her any responsible adult. Needles and healing and a choice that is permanent was simply that… a choice I made. Not the end of my life, though Ken was quick to tease me about his tatted up wife and how much of a rebel I was!IMG_20180704_125226_971
  3. Keeping my legs covered for 3 weeks seem to have given me the permission to embrace colour. My sari skirts were a bit of an impulse buy (Ken edit: If you call agonizing over a purchase for 3 weeks an ‘impulse buy’) if a bit difficult to pair up with shirts on hand, but for 3 weeks I have been colorful. Since some of the skirts only matched some crop tops I purchased recently belly baring became commonplace. It is a movement from worrying about fitting in, matching my clothes to my “life” and into comfort and colour and embracing the fact that I love brighter feathers. Plus, they make a lovely swish when I walk and I have always loved swishing and twirling since I was a little girl – why should that change now?20180628_152211
  4. Baths make me calmer and 3 weeks without that has been a bit of a struggle. I am not a girl who loves a hot shower, give me a long soak to relax away the tension and frustration of a long day anytime. The kids also enjoy the respite from mom after lunch when I took my lunch break. Maybe I really am more mermaid at heart than I like to admit? 
  5. That little square of skin is now the softest skin on my entire body, I swear! Lotion lotion lotion. Washing and lotion, no sun and then the itching. No one mentioned how high maintenance this small patch of skin would be, but worth it! Self care is so important, and this was a reminder to me that maybe I need to pay more attention. When you have to alter your life to look after a single body part… like my time spent on what we thought was my hip, but is now believed to be a slightly slipped disk from when I almost fell in the winter. The reality is I am growing older, and in order to do so gracefully and healthily I need to be more aware. Yoga, workouts, long walks, R.I.P.P.E.D. classes at the YMCA… they take on an even greater meaning when looked at from the perspective not of losing weight or strengthening up but of self care. Taking time for a nap without guilt (seriously I have to convince myself, idleness in my mind, becomes laziness or neglect… I have a very hard time just taking a moment and stopping), spending a few extra minutes working on your appearance and standing tall with confidence that you look awesome. I am learning more and more about these moments. I love myself, my insides and outsides, the family I have created, the life style I live. It is flawed and confusing and at times difficult but it is all amazing. The life I live, the appearance I put out there in the world is all proof that I love myself. That I take the time to care for myself and the ones I love. 

    No filter, not needed. Just hard work and comfortable in my own skin!

    No filter, not needed. Just hard work and comfortable in my own skin!

  6. I like feeling a little the rebel. Granted, many see me and my family as a bit more than a “little” rebellious with our large family size and homeschooling, or my lack of ability to drive and my insistence that we celebrate both Canadian and American holidays PLUS Chinese New Year. Ok… so I was already a bit of a rebel, but having a tattoo… that feels like a “cool” rebel. All that other stuff is more necessity or not a choice but a calling. I CHOSE to get a tattoo, I CHOSE the design and then had one of my oldest and dearest friends not only hold my hand through it all, but take pictures AND help with the design. Who else could be so lucky but to have someone who is basically a sister also be an amazing artist who can take my crazy ramblings and make something amazing on paper?? Thanks again Shandai! You ROCK! They say it takes a village to raise a family, well it sometimes takes friends to help create the perfect family unit too. I have been doubly blessed with an amazing community AND friends who are family to round out the flesh and blood relatives we were born with. (Plus Shandai is pretty cool, rebellious and all round awesome herself)

So there you have it, 6 things I learned about myself all from 30 min of tiny needles, ink and the hand of an amazing artist at Rose in No Man’s Land. I can’t say I won’t go back… My butterfly may need something sweet to land on yet. But for now… My heart is out there, open book. Ask me, share your story with me, read my story here (just search the word “depression” in my search box), my heart is open and I have found that sharing is so much more than simply caring. 

All healed up!

All healed up!

Happy Chinese New Year!!

Chinese New Year has great meaning for our family. Please enjoy my resources and recounting of our yearly celebration a few months late.

It is that time of year again, when we celebrate as we were taught by our dear friends who are family back home. I have already sent off my red envelopes and this year special knots to my god daughters and their sibling. This is actually one of the big events that brings me right back to that homesick state of mind.

Neko-Chan got in the groove with Kai Lan as well.

Neko-Chan got in the groove with Kai Lan as well.

We cleaned the house and sorted out many containers of clothes and toys that we donated this year. We decluttered and made some big choices about broken or half forgotten items. Nothing motivates this brood like the realization that we need to clean for the lunar celebration. It is a reminder of home and love and tradition that the whole family enjoys.

Each of the kids had a trim or haircut, and received new clothes. I lucked out hugely on Amazon with a momentary sale on Qing Dynasty dresses for the girls’ 18 inch dolls. Echo’s new dress matched her doll nearly perfectly. There are other Dynasty reproductions the girls have hinted at wanting. (not hugely subtle hints)

Gavin on left

Gavin on left

20180216_113439We had a lovely home made lunch. Zander basically put together the festival rice solo (Gavin helped him with ingredient prep the night before). He used the recipe out of the Runaway Wok book which is a family favourite, minus nuts.20180216_122241

20180216_120250Trinity tried making rice balls from a recipe off Educaton.com, though it struck us more as a Japanese rice ball and was too heavy on the rice wine vinegar for anyone to fall in love.20180216_120915

I made a sweet glutinous rice cake from a recipe shared by All About Ami. I think I will make it again in a larger pan to make thinner slices. I enjoyed it, the kids are only half sold.20180216_123844

After lunch we had our sweets, as usual I tried to branch out to new options. I couldn’t find moon cakes so I picked up something called Wife Cakes.. nope, and the almond cookies didn’t quite cut it.20180216_101643

Don’t forget the red envelopes.20180216_124301

I have been working on my knotting skills and made lucky knots for my god daughters back home using Chinese cord and had the kids make their own very simplified braided version with a charm that represents their Zodiac symbol.IMG_20180203_002402_423

We did our t shirts the day before since the day of we also had homeschool friends coming for a visit.

Then that evening I went to my class as usual, so much fun! And then Ken and I got take out from our favourite Chinese restaurant, Rose Garden. A great way to end the day.20180216_191205

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!!! Welcome year of the dog!!! 新年快乐 / 新年快樂 (Xīnnián kuàilè)

Resources for this year were varied and fun, but since I have shared a lot in the past years this year I am going to give you the best books we found! No links just titles so give them a search and enjoy!

  • Fortune Cookies Fortunes by Grace Lin… I loved this book because she discusses how fortune cookies are an Asian American food in her educational blurb at the back. We also read as a family her book The Year of the Dog. Grace Lin includes fun illustrations along with her entertaining reminisces in this one.
  • The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine… we loved this one enough to purchase it brand new. We also have his the Runaway Rice Cake which was a lucky library find in their booksale.
  • We had 3 Magic Tree House books this year… A Perfect Time for Pandas (for Emanuel and his panda report), Day of the Dragon King and the companion to this book China Land of the Emperor’s Great Wall. Our landmark report lined up beautifully with our unit study – The Great Wall of China was fun to research.
  • You Wouldn’t Want to Work on the Great Wall of China! By Jacqueline Morley was helpful, of course.
  • We briefly talked about Mulan with the book Mulan by Li Jian, I was gifted the book Mulan by Shiamin Kwa and Wilt L. Idema which I am determined to make a summer read. I have really been in the research and expand the mind feel lately.
  • Another family favourite that is on the to buy list is The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang.
  • Videos…  Celebrate With Kai Lan and Nature Pandas (an older film by NATURE) were fun. I am sure we used a second Kai Lan dvd but it isn’t coming to mind.20180216_110922

I hope these inspire you to check out the library. Researching and enjoying other cultures is such a privilege.

Our Chinese Characters work.

Our Chinese Characters work.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Every year we try to make a little fuss over the day… themed dinner, coloured clothes, crafts, snacks. This year was no different in that respect, the difference being Ken and I decided not to make a fuss over each other and save that until March or April. It is just too busy in the month of February for us to muster the focus this year. Especially since Chinese New Year was 2 days later. Just wait until next year when that falls ON the twins’ birthday.

As usual we did the red and white clothing. The girls each got new shirts that were on super sale at Walmart. 

Oldest to youngest in bottom pic (Zander first)

Oldest to youngest in bottom pic (Zander first)

Lunch was red and white and full of sweets. The kids all gave each other Valentine’s and Ken and I gave them a small assortment of themed candy. 

Ham and scrambled eggs... cuz I could

Ham and scrambled eggs… cuz I could

Freshly whipped heavy cream

Freshly whipped heavy cream

Even Miss Neko-chan got into the spirit a little… and then attempted to take out the heart. IMG_20180214_151454_276

20180214_083606

The twins and I got in a workout and then the younger 3 their choir Valentine’s Day party. 20180214_173710

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, I hope you feel loved and cherished EVERY day of the year. 20180214_151107