23 September 2010

Moon Festival

Remember the beginning of the summer when I shared about our disastrous journey to the National Zoo in DC? (I'm not a true blogger, so I don't know how to link to past stories - sorry). I won't bore you with the details, but it involved a long drive, traffic, no parking, vomiting, and ultimately an early end to the day.

I have learned my lesson.

Last February my girls discovered NiHao KaiLan, a Nick Jr. show that is basically Dora The Explorer, but for Chinese culture. I hate to admit it, but I kind of like the show and its eastern, "think of the group" way of solving problems.

They learned about the Chinese Moon Festival, where you eat dinner under the full moon and eat moon cakes. So of course, me with my love for anything that has to do with a culture other than my own, decided to enlighten my children and make moon cakes with them. I got some pretty weird looks at the Asian market when I was asking for the ingredients. Apparently no one eats moon cakes in the winter - as the festival is in the fall. I guess it is kind of like looking for Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes in August.

So we waited - all summer - looking forward to the Moon Festival. Looking back, it is kind of silly. It isn't like there is some cool meaning behind the festival that we could focus on. Just another one of those "turning of the seasons" kind of holiday that is part of most cultures.

Silly or not, I planned an elaborate family outing to Chinatown in DC. And by elaborate, I mean we had no other plan than to just go downtown and eat at a Chinese restaurant. Yup, I drove to the metro, paid the parking and the train fare, dragged the double stroller and my baby in a sling through the DC Metro - just to eat at a Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown.

And it was totally worth it. Only you and I know that what we did wasn't a big deal. My girls had no clue. According to them, we had taken them to China itself, with roasted ducks hanging in the windows and signs written in unreadable (for us) Chinese characters. We went to the "Wok 'n' Roll" (corny, huh?) where the girls had bubble tea, dumplings and ramen. The servers were impressed with Annalia's Chinese words (Thank you KaiLan), and they were thrilled with Xander.

I love going places that are so influenced by another culture that the workers barely speak English. It makes you think you are getting the real thing, not just take-out General Tso's Chicken. I knew I was in one of those places when a waitress came up to me and offered to hold Xander while I ate. I can't even imagine that happening at a "Friday"s or "Chili"s. So I happily handed him off and devoured my Chow Mein. Justin just stared at me in shock.
After our yummie and uneventful meal, we packed the kids back up into the stroller and sling, and I handed the girls their mooncakes. (purchased, I learned that no one makes their own moon cakes). I had thought of taking them into a little store to buy a souvenir. You know, something else to make the trip all that way worth it. But they were ready to go home, and I didn't argue.

13 September 2010

purposeful disappointment

Nobody wants their child to be spoiled, but it isn't always an easy thing to do. I look around our house, filled to capacity of things we think we "need". I only buy toys for the kids for birthdays and Christmas, yet there always seems to be more than we can handle.

Annalia has been looking forward to her birthday for quite a while now. I guess she is finally old enough to understand that it is a day all about her, she gets things she wants, and of course, she gets to request whatever cake she wants.

She made it very clear that she wanted 3 things. A little sewing machine, a pink pillow pet, and a pink cake with blue butterflies. So simple, so little. Yet I didn't want to start a precedence that would eventually lead to extravagant birthdays with lots of expensive gifts. I prepared her for the idea that she MAY not get everything she asked for. Lucky me, she was eventually ok with it. She told me all she wanted was the little sewing machine and she would make her own pillow pet. (Can you tell she is my child?)

Now, I knew that a little sewing machine was not the most practical gift. She is a little to young to REALLY use it. But it was all she talked about, all she wanted. Did I "give in" to this one desire, or purposefully disappoint her that she won't always get whats she wants? Well, like so many other things, I let circumstances decide for me. I happened to be in Joann's without the girls and saw that the little tiny sewing machines were on clearance, and only 1 was left.

So I got it.

And I didn't get the pillow pet - but I am not sure that should count, because I did let the grandparents know that was what she wanted. And, come on, what grandparent is going to pass up the opportunity to get the prized gift?

And of course I was going to make her a special cake - that is just what I do.

Then, the day before her birthday, I get mega-sick. Could barely get up, was in no shape to make a pink cake with blue butterflies. The next morning I was feeling a little better, but not even close to good. She was disappointed, but didn't really understand that there was no way I was going to be able to make her cake. On the way to church, I have a great idea. I will swing through Dunkin Donuts and get her a donut with pink frosting. She is thrilled, and all seems to be well. Until I get to the window and realize that I left my wallet at home.

So much for worrying about getting her everything she wanted. It seems I was able to disappoint her without even trying. And of course I felt so bad. Who wants to make their beautiful 4-year-old cry on her birthday?

All in all, it was a great day, and she loved (almost) every moment of it. You should see the way her face lit up when she opened the sewing machine, and then the PINK pillow pet. That girl was in high heaven. And to top it off, I had Justin pick up a dozen donuts as her "cake", and you would have had no idea that just hours earlier she was crying over the loss of her pink cake with blue butterflies.

09 September 2010

A Green One

I recently made a batch of trail mix for the girls. Which, of course, included m&m's. And I fully expected the girls to eat that first (Come on - who wouldn't?) It was especially cute watching Naomi. She would pick up each piece of candy-coated chocolate and declare, "I found a red one!!" or "I found a blue one!!" It was as if each new discovery was another reason to celebrate.

Later, I was at the grocery store and Naomi was in the front seat - an uncommon occurrence, as she prefers to walk the isles with her big sister. I was mostly focusing on the grocery list, but every once in a while I would hear Naomi exclaim, "I found a green one!!" I didn't think much about it. I figured she was finding colors in the store and making a game of it. In fact, I was even a little proud of my cute little 2-year-old as she showed off her color skills.

Then I happened to look at her right before one of these little bursts of color excitement. She digs her finger into her nose, pulls out a nice, big boogie, and shouts - "I found a green one!!"