Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Happy New Year

Xin Nian Kuai Le

No, I didn't read the calendar wrong and miss a month. It is time to celebrate Chinese New Year.

I think I first celebrated Chinese New Year in the late 80's when I was working in international purchasing. The offices and factories in Taiwan shut down for two weeks so it was two weeks to catch up on things at work. Then in 1992 I left Taiwan just before Chinese New Year. When I was single and living in Asia most of Chinese New Year was an opportunity to travel. The office would close for a week or so and it was a great time to travel except that everyone else did so the planes were full and the resorts crowded.

When we were married, we spent Chinese New Year enjoying a bit of quiet. I can remember Taipei being very quiet during the day as so many people left the city either to travel abroad or to return to their home town. Then at night it would get loud with fireworks.

Hong Kong had a bit of a different feel at Chinese New Year. The shopping malls would be decorated. Usually to reflect the zodiac animal.  Here it is from the year of the pig.

In Hong Kong we lived in a rural area. Yes, there is such an area. Not far from our flat they would sell oranges at this time of the year. It is hard to believe that little girl is now 11.

This was one of my favourite photos of her. We walked up to look at the oranges and she was pointing to them.

The market would have all kinds of decorations for sale.

The area around the Star Ferry was usually decorated and so from there you could look towards the island. I miss Hong Kong.

Well, I decided to celebrate Chinese New Year a bit this year. We invited some friends over and made dumplings. I made my own wrappers which was the first and last time to do that. I am guessing that I made 4 recipes of wrapper dough and that was a lot of rolling. J was the master roller and cutter and he did a great job of getting thin wrappers which is what you want. We probably made about 100 dumplings.

We ate them boiled and fried. Fried are my favourite. I also made some fried rice to go with the dinner. We had oranges for dessert.

We had a fun evening making dumplings and then eating dumplings. The kitchen was a mess when we were done but it was worth it.

Happy New Year!

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Friday, February 5, 2016

January Review

I know it is now the 5th of February and I am taking the time to reflect on January.

My word for the year is challenge. My plan is to challenge myself in a different area each month. January I challenged myself to do the Whole30. I did it -- yeah!!--with no cheats or slips. I learned quite a bit about myself and the struggle during those 30 days. There is so much that I could write about that. I will say now that I learned that I need to be alert so that I don't lick my finger when it was something I was not to eat or just finish something remaining on Miss K's plate. I did have the self-discipline to do it. Now I need to continue that self-discipline in the coming days and I will tell you it is difficult.

That was January's challenge.

One of the goals for the year was the Reading Challenge. In January I read:

- Finding Myself in Britain by Amy Boucher Pye - This was an easy read and one that I could relate to in some ways. Amy is American married to a Brit and living here. She writes about culture and live here but also weaves faith into that. - I don't know where this fits in the reading challenge.

Awe by Paul David Tripp - Who and what controls our heart? This book was a challenge to see God and allow him to have every aspect of my life. This was my Christian Living book.

Jack Ballads from the Hearth - by Chautona Havig - I have read most of the books that Chautona has written. This was not the usual book but I enjoyed as much as the others. This was just published in 2016 so I am considering this my Book published in 2016.

Morning Breeze by Folung Lo - This was a bit of her life during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It was one girl's story of how she survived that time.

I read four books in January and started a few others. Yes, I normally have a few books at a time that I am reading.

Less Unfinished Projects - I didn't start any new projects and I didn't finish any so I am at the same place. I do need to go through my unfinished projects and see what I have.

I continue with the goal of less stuff. I sold some home school books and things that we are no longer using. I sewed some sandwich wraps which used some fabric. I have a few boxes of things that I need to take to a charity shop.

We did not go hiking this month. I did put my hiking boots on the other day to go to the park because I knew it would be muddy up there.

We really didn't have an outing this month. We went to Manchester but that was for the monthly prayer meeting. We went bowling with friends last weekend so maybe that counts. Considering that I won both games I think it does count as our outing.

I have my list of goals in my planner which is a place where I can reference them as I plan. I need to spend a bit of time just reviewing and doing some further planning.

That wraps up January. I am looking forward to February.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Hosting a Tea

Most Sundays our church hosts a tea for international students. We are involved with the international student ministry and so we have hosted the tea a few times. The first time I hosted I did have to ask what kind of tea this is -- is it a tea with sandwiches and little foods or is this an evening meal. Here where we live the evening meal is called, "tea". It is sandwiches and finger foods. I was told I could add American food.

We hosted the international tea yesterday. It is always a bit uncertain of how many people will come. I wanted enough food but not too much.

I made Snickerdoodles which are rolled in cinnamon sugar. I also made pumpkin muffins -- with cinnamon in them. A friend told me that British use more ginger in their baking and Americans use cinnamon. I guess I proved that true yesterday.

I made chicken salad, egg salad and put fruit and nuts on the table. Someone brought some scones with butter and raspberry jam. I used some of my dishes that my mom and I bought when we went to Stoke-on-Trent. Some are some dishes that I have had and brought with us.

We had a few students and had a nice time visiting with them. We had a few leftovers which didn't last long.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

I Stopped Using Maths Curriculum

I stopped using a maths curriculum. I have a collection of maths curriculums. I put them all away. Maybe we will use them in the future but for now I put them away. J still has his maths curriculum. No way am I teaching Algebra I without a book. Actually, I don't teach Algebra I, DIVE does that. I just grade the work.

On my shelf I have Math-U-See (MUS), Saxon, Horizons, and we have tried computer based programs as well. Now they are all moved off my shelf.

I have written at various times about the challenges Miss K has with maths, MUS here, MUS here, and Saxon Math here. It won't take long to read those updates that maths has been a struggle.

The reason I put them aside is that these are going a bit too fast or there just isn't enough review for her. For example after working on math facts for three years, she still does not have her math facts down. That is such a basis that it is difficult to continue without math facts.

I said and considered the goals for Miss K in regards to maths. I am not giving up on math facts but we are working it slow. At this time she has her plus zero facts and plus 1 facts. We are working on plus two, doubles and making ten.

So in order to learn these we have been working on drill and trying different ways to get the facts into her memory.

We have used various manipulative to add the kinetic aspect to our learning. Here she is using blocks to visually show the "making ten" facts.

Today we worked with our treat manipulatives to again make ten.

Miss K can count by 2's and so I have her write it out both odd and even. That gives us a guide for the plus two facts. With the numbers on her paper we go through the drill cards.

We also spend some time counting and skip counting. I have a dot-to-dot book that we have used over the past few years. I still improvement because she used to struggle with doing it and now she is almost able to do it on her own.

Money and time are practical things that we are working on. Her Christmas gifts included some maths games -- Pop to the Shops, Bus Stop, and Tell the Time.

I really like Pop to the Shops. It is a good money game with buying and selling. It helps learn some of the coins and if you have enough money to buy something.

So for now we are using various things to learn the math facts. Maybe someday we will go back to some of the maths curriculums on the shelf but for now we need to learn our facts.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Week in Review 22 January 2016

I know it is Saturday morning. I think that tends to be the time that I have to just reflect on the week.

Our week began with a bit of snow. I love how quiet and beautiful the world is with even just a bit of snow on the ground. We only got 1-2 inches.

Here are the signs inside that there is snow outside, clothing drying on the radiator. Miss K did a bit of sledding/sledging on the road before church.

As I was finishing my quiet time on Monday, I saw this beautiful sunrise. I love the morning and the reminder of God's faithfulness.

We had a somewhat normal week of school.

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Week in Review - 15 January 2016

I know it has been quite a long time since I wrote a week in review. As we get back into school, I want to do a better job of documenting our week.

This week began with my husband traveling. He was visiting his parents and was able to stay with my parents as well. We missed him and were glad when he returned on Wednesday morning.

"Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as Tastykake." We have Tastykakes. These are two new flavours. I think my favourites used to be the chocolate with vanilla inside and the butterscotch krimpets. I put a pack in the freezer for me for February since I am on a food challenge this month.

The exciting gift was daddy with grandpa's help boxed up Miss K's doll cradle that was in storage and brought it here. It was one that grandpa had made for her and for whatever reason we put it in storage. She has asked at various times for her cradle and so she was excited to get it.

Miss K and I began a FutureLearn science. We have done this in the past so I was pleased to find another course. This week we were seeing how much water is in a potato.  Quite a lot and I am not sure my microwave will recover from that science experiment.

We moved to World War I in history. I found a timeline of major events and it worked great as we were reading to just review the events.

We did World War I in three days. That was not much time but we covered the highlights. We watched the Sainsbury's commercial which gives a bit of the Christmas Truce. It does bring to tears to my eyes.

I discovered some new history videos today. We enjoyed the World War I in 6 minutes.

Miss K wanted to make a fruit owl that she found in her Peppa Pig magazine. I am not sure it really looked like an owl but we had fun making it and enjoyed the fruit.

This afternoon the sun was shining and we went for a walk and played a bit in the woods. It was nice to be able to be outside for a bit.

That about wraps up our week.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Birthday Gift

Birthdays are important to Miss K. If you say, "July" she will quickly say, "my birthday." She begins counting down for her birthday the day after her birthday. She told someone the other day, "I am almost 12." Almost in another 6 months you will be 12. Well, not only is her birthday important but so are friends' birthdays.

She knew that her friend Ruth turned 15 today and she has been talking about it for a week or so. She wanted to buy a gift for her. I opted for making a gift.

I was sorting through my donate box and saw the yellow sun smile clip and the blue cup. I had bought some Cadbury chocolate packs at Christmas for 89p and we didn't give them all away. I pulled those out, some Hershey's kisses for weight in the bottom of the cup, some curly ribbon, and we were ready to make a gift.

Miss K helped to tape the chocolates to the bamboo skewers. Then we put them in the cup, tied some curly ribbon.

I think the Chomp was a bit shy when I was taking the photo. It kept turning to the back. Getting both the Curlywury and the Chomp facing the same direction was difficult.

Success! All the chocolates are facing the right direction.

A gift for Ruth. We gave it to her mother this morning and she was excited to get it this evening. Her comment was that, "Miss K is a legend."

Something so simple can brighten someone's day.

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