Lunar New Year Celebrations

 

Lunar New Year is on Sunday and we are so excited to celebrate in some simple and nostalgic ways. Growing up I received red envelopes from my Chinese grandparents and so we continue to keep their heritage alive through this time of celebration. We are planning to gift the kids a red envelope and a little gift and then we will go out for Chinese to share a meal together.

+ Red envelopes: you can buy these online or at Asian grocery markets. I snagged these at Target at their Lunar New Year booth in the store. In the past I also liked to keep some on hand to use as envelopes for cash gifts or gift cards.

+ Chinese Zodiac place mats: last year my mom brought the kids some of these Chinese Zodiac place mats from a Chinese restaurant. I laminated them so we can use them year after year. We use them at home with a Chinese meal. I also like to keep them in our basket of seasonal books (Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day currently) so the kids can look at them, play with them, and we can talk about their Chinese Zodiac.

+ Chinese Zodiac stuffed animals: my mom buys each kid a stuffed animal for their Chinese zodiac. We have a monkey, pig, boar, and a rabbit (for baby born this year).

+ Books: our favorite books include Bringing In The New Year, Dim Sum For Everyone, Round Is A Mooncake, and Fortune Cookie Fortunes. I also just saw It's Chinese New Year, Curious George that I have added to our wish list.

With my oldest in school and me not having the most energy right now, we probably won't do any special projects or crafts. But in the past we have done some fun crafts. You can see more ideas here.



A Holiday Recap

The holidays have come and gone in a blink as it always does. I had full intentions of posting some blog content but we had a very crazy fall and beginning of winter. We continued to fight fall illnesses including a scary emergency room for our youngest (I'll share more below). But as we turn the page into a new year, I am happy to report we are all healthy finally (for now!) and I am past my morning sickness. 2023 is looking hopeful as we start back into routine and I have some energy to feel a little like myself again. Here is a little recap of our holiday season.

Thanksgiving was fun and busy. We hosted my in laws which included grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles. They stayed at an airbnb nearby and we enjoyed hosting a large group for the first time in our home. The kids loved the cousin time and we enjoyed being with our family.

I put up our Christmas decorations before they all arrived so that it would be done and out of the way come the beginning of December.

I managed to squeeze all twelve of us into our dining room. I pushed the couch all the way up to our cabinets by the fireplace to extend our dining room just enough for everyone to fit. It was so nice to have everyone at one big table for our Thanksgiving dinner.

A little creative rearranging gave us a wonderful cozy feel. It was also fun for me to play hostess again.

We had quite a few snow days so it was fun to have all the kids home with me to decorate and not have to go anywhere.

We had two big snow storms in the course of one month. It seemed a bit much for a place that doesn't get snow that often! Of course the kids loved it. But being pregnant and playing in the snow is exhausting! But I tried to suck it up and enjoy it for my kids' sake! And it sure is pretty.

Thanksgiving food was delicious! I tried to prep what I could before hand so that I didn't have much to cook the day of. It worked out well so that I could rest (I was still dealing with some morning sickness) and enjoy our company.

These sweet cousins are each just a few months apart (the boys and the girls). Besties for life.

Then we had the scariest experience with our youngest. We were coming home from school and I went to get him out of the car and found him having a seizure. I didn't know what to do but get him out of the car and call 9-1-1. Waiting for the paramedics to arrive with my sweet baby lying on the floor of our house, praying that he would keep breathing and be okay, was the scariest moment of my life.

He ended up having a fever of 104 that induced a febrile seizure. We were taken to the local emergency room. He seemed to be doing better but was slow to have normal movement in the left side of his body. It was unusual for this behavior to last for several hours so they transferred us to Seattle's Children's Hospital to see a seizure specialist.

Another ambulance ride for our little guy. He looked so tiny in that giant stretcher.

By the time he arrived, his symptoms finally went away and he was bouncing on the hospital bed! He got checked out a few more times and seemed well enough for us to go home. We would follow up in clinic a few weeks later. It was quite the day.

 
We followed up with a neurologist and he got an EEG. Thankfully everything came back normal and it seems like this was a one time incident due to the cold he had. But this little guy and his parents sure have been through a lot! The trauma is still fresh and emotional but we are so grateful he is okay and that we can move past this. I still have the occasional flashback or nightmare about it. But it was a life changing experience that only made our love for him grow deeper.

 
It often feels like there are toys everywhere and laundry that never ends. But I am doing my best to let some things go to rest and be with my kids. It is a constant battle but I am getting better at trying to let things be.

We had a couple of really fun holiday activities in our town. We really enjoyed getting out and experiencing the magical spirit of the season.

I am somewhat back to cooking and eating normally. Those months of morning sickness are rough. I am so happy to be enjoying the joys of food again! One of my favorite dishes is this garlic parmesan pasta with chicken and broccoli (or peas). Here is the recipe - you can use sqaghetti squash or pasta! And I usually add olive oil.

The bump is definitely showing now! We are excited to find out the gender in a little over a week.

The kids wanted to wrap up some of their handmade gifts for us and each other.

My holiday decor continues to be simple but still so fun. Here is our mantel holding all of our stockings. And one for baby as I like to be able to open my Christmas bin the following year (after baby is born) and already have a matching stocking ready to go. Me and Brent's striped stockings were a DIY from stockings I got at TJ-Maxx. And all the kids' stockings are from Target over the years.

My felt pom pom garland is from Etsy that I use almost all year around now. And I just loved having a little white poinsettia in a ginger jar this year. It really fancied it up!

We don't have a mud room or a very big entryway so I created my own to hold all our snow gear. I used over the door hooks to hold all our snow jackets and pants. And on the inside of the door I used one of those over the door shoe organizers to hold all of our gloves, hats, and small winter wear. I took a picture but can't find it. :) But it was a game changer. Each kid got their own row and they could easily get their items ALL BY THEMSELVES. Mom win.

Another simple but big statement purchase was this felt tree collar for under our tree. It was only $15 and rolled up small enough to fit in my existing Christmas storage bins. Regular tree collars can be fairly expensive and large to store. This was such a happy find and I loved the modern and minimal look. We did have a tree skirt in years past but our Roomba always sucked it up when it was vacuuming. We also put presents under the tree in previous years but my kids are at an age where they are too curious and the littlest would likely try to rip them open! This was an easy way to cover the legs of our artificial tree while still looking great!

I wrapped a lot of gifts this year as most of our extended family sends gifts via Amazon. I started early which allowed me time to be creative. It was a fun nap time activity for me this year!

While I love homemade sugar cookies, the premade cookies from the bakery section continue to be way easier. Note to self for next year. The kids love to decorate them!

We also got an advent wreath candle holder for the first time this year. I read Shadow and Light for advent and it was the perfect easy read to encourage me to better incorporate advent into our holiday season. We only had the advent wreath the last week before Christmas, but the kids were very excited to light the candles each night. Plus my oldest had learned about it in school so it was neat to see him soaking in the concept. It also tied in to our existing decor with a little blue and white plate. Because it is truly those little details that make me so happy!

After wrapping all our Christmas gifts, I tried to box them up for better storage. This was our bedroom scene the last week before Christmas!

Cupcakes for Jesus's birthday! And some festive decorations because I apparently forgot how to pipe frosting correctly! I popped numerous piping bags and officially gave up. Also note to self - my favorite Trader Joe's cupcakes are also a better choice for next year to ease my holiday stress!

For Thanksgiving and Christmas our tradition has become a cookie plate (a mix of store bought and homemade) and a Marie Calendar's frozen chocolate pie. It is delicious and simple for our little crew.

The fun after the snow - when it all melts and fills up our storm water creek!

Every few years (read: not every year!) I try to do some homemade ornaments with the kids that we keep and send some to the grandparents. We did not have any supplies this year but my oldest kept asking if we could make ornaments. We were currently covered in snow and were not going to head to a craft store anytime soon! So I took to my Pinterest Christmas board and was inspired to cut out some cardboard for the sweetest little ornaments.

They wanted to use a ton of glitter which I later regretted when I had to clean it all up! But the glitter looked so shimmery and beautiful on the tree! It was worth the mess after all.

I have more photos and other thoughts to share. But I have been working on this post for weeks. 

I am coming to realize that I just don't have as much free time as I have had in the past. So I have to end this at good enough - like most things in life right now. While I have lots of things floating in my head, I am learning that I have to be content in simply living out this season of little ones. And that sharing is secondary to actually experiencing it. 

So while I am away, things are usually okay! My hands are most definitely full and I am learning that that is a wonderful thing. 

Wishing you all the best in this new year! I hope to be back as soon as I can. xo