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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Update your reading lists!

Hi everyone!  I am all set up with my new Wordpress site!  If you are still seeing this, please update your readers to (no "www").  First blog post is up: Our China Team.  Come join me!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Getting a facelift

No pictures, but just a quick note to let you know that I'm giving myself a facelift for my birthday!  I'll be switching over to Wordpress with a brand new, simple, clean look.  The blog will be down for a bit while I'm making the switch, but I promise I'm not going anywhere!  I think you'll still be able to see me at until I'm finished with the switch.  See you soon!

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's different

One of my friends recently shared on Facebook that she was struggling with being newly home with her second Chinese son.  She received so many encouraging comments, it was beautiful!  But she also received a hurtful comment implying that parenting biological and adopted children is exactly the same, and she should roll with the punches because everyone else had been through the same things with their new children.  Although I know this could be true in some cases, I also know that parenting adopted children is sometimes very different.

Of course, each child is unique and different.  There is no one-size-fits-all status for any child, biological or adopted.  But as a parent of both biological and adopted children, I see the differences, especially when they first become part of your family.  Parenting a new child who may have been institutionalized for the first part of their life - who may not have had someone to meet their needs consistently, who may not have been loved or told how precious they are, who may have been neglected and/or abused - can be very challenging and delicate compared to parenting a child who was loved and had his/her needs met consistently from the beginning.  While I know that biological children can also offer significant challenges, institutionalization introduces a number of issues not typically common with biological children.  Children who have been institutionalized can be traumatized, hurt, and delayed.  Children generally lose one month of development and linear growth for every three months they are institutionalized.  Our children often come to us with behaviors learned to survive.  We usually do not share most of those behaviors with others to protect our hurting children.

Teaching them that they have parents who love them unconditionally and will meet their needs often takes a lot of intentionality and time.  This may include not letting anyone hold our children or help with any basic needs until he/she is firmly attached and bonded to us as their new parents.  As much as we may want and desperately need the help that is very naturally accepted when we bring biological newborns home, we oftentimes hold off with adopted children because we know it's best for our children.  There may not have been a consistent caregiver in their past.  They may have depended on only themselves to survive.  Survive is defined as "to continue to live or exist, in spite of danger or hardship."  Survival is the most basic human instinct that children shouldn't have to worry about.  If consistency is lacking, our children may think they can only depend on themselves.  Oftentimes the only way to teach them that mama and daddy will always be there for them is to be the only people to meet their needs.  It can be exhausting and isolating.

Add in the fact that you are parenting a new toddler (or older child in many cases) with a very clear personality for the first time ... the road can be much harder and may look a lot different than parenting biological children.  Throw in a the possibility of a language barrier, institutional delays, weekly therapies, and medical special needs ... it all just compounds how difficult adoptive parenting can be.  It may be easy to look at the beautiful airport homecoming pictures and new family portraits and think the family is filled with love and everything is perfect.  The truth is the family is filled with love and it is very beautiful indeed, but things are not always perfect.  Fortunately we are filled up daily with His perfect love and that shines through.  It is only from the Father that we have the strength in those first few months (or sometimes years).  Only He makes beauty from ashes and has the ability to redeem the brokenness of adoption.  His beauty and truth always shine through.

I do not think everyone should feel sorry for anyone or adoptive parents deserve a big pat on the back.  We all mess up daily (often minute by minute) just like every other parent on the planet and need Jesus desperately!  I write it only to offer a different perspective and to hopefully share that parenting biological and adopted children can be very different. It's hard to understand for most people who haven't parented children from hard places. I get that.  But when adoptive parents are struggling through something tough and are asking for support and prayer, it may not always be the normal everyday parenting stuff.  Of course, it is ALL worth it. Totally worth it. Biological or adopted, it doesn't matter - every bit of it is worth it. Every child who we have the privilege of parenting here on earth is precious and unique. We get such a special opportunity to borrow them for a bit from the Father to train them up!  It is surely beautiful and we are overwhelmed with love.  Our children are gifts from the Lord and it is our privilege to parent them.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

GUEST POST: I'm not advocating for a stranger

I had the privilege of being with Kelly to meet this little guy in China and take these pictures of him.  He needs a family and is such a wonderful little boy.  He really would be an amazing son and he wants to be adopted.  Will you please read my friend, Kelly's, blog post about him below and share?  He is such a light and so full of life.  After meeting him in person myself, I just know his family is out there.  Let's bring this sweet son home.

"I was told there were no flights out of Beijing on March 12th. No flights? How could that be? What that meant was that if we really wanted to travel on that day, our trip that would have been a 13 hour plane ride followed by several hours in Chicago followed by a 2 hour flight to Philly just increased by about 10 hours. We had the worst itinerary ever—an early morning domestic flight to another city in China, an 8 hour layover, and then a flight to Chicago and then our flights home. Great.
When I called my friend and traveling companion to tell her the bad news, she suggested we make the best of it, get out of the airport, make it a fun layover, see the town. Then, we both remembered that he lived there. But, there was no way we’d get permission to visit him. I was sure of it.
But, apparently, God was in charge of our itinerary all along.
QuiLe 1
He was anxious to greet us when we arrived, hurrying to put on his shoes. The boys in his room were calling his name. They all knew he had special visitors coming to see him. He was a little quiet at first and hindered by the gap created by our English and his Mandarin. But, chocolate fixes lots of things. He smiled big, showing off his dimples and at least two Enlish words as I handed him a big chocolate bar from America.
Thank you!
We spent an hour with him, hearing from him about how he likes math and basketball. We saw his classroom and his prize winning handwriting assignment. I saw his second grade workbook where he was doing math more advanced than my son the same age is doing in his American 2nd grade class. I saw the love his teacher and caregiver have for him, a boy who has had a rough start but who very much seems like a normal, active little guy. We heard from him that most of his friends including his best friend have already been adopted. We asked him if he wanted a family, brothers and sisters, a big move to America.
I touched his face, tickled his cheeks, patted his head, silently prayed over him in person as I have prayed from the other side of the world.
I told someone there that I thought he’d make a wonderful son and how sorry I was that he was still waiting. That someone typed something into a phone and showed it to me, unable to say it without the help of technology…or unable to say it aloud in the presence of others.
It read in Chinese:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
QuiLe 2
At the end of our visit, we walked him back to his room. I gave him another chocolate bar to save for later and told him how special he was and that we came all the way from America just to see him. It wasn’t about us at all; we aren’t all that. But, I wanted to give him that. I wanted him to know he was worth a trip across the world.
Today’s his 8th birthday. I wonder if he saved any of his chocolate bar to eat today. We prayed for him as a family today, praying that his family sees his face and that God would show Himself sovereign over their itinerary too and reveal to them that he is worth a trip across the world and back again to make him a beloved son.
To read more about my commitment to advocate for him, please see this post.
To read more about my first post about him, please read this post.
If you want to know more about adopting him, please contact me. I would love to share more pictures, some video, and everything I know about him."

Friday, March 14, 2014


I'm home.  After 48 hours of travel, a cancelled flight, and an unexpected overnight stay in Chicago, I'm home.  I'm not really sure what to write, as words don't seem to do my trip to China justice.  I don't even know where to start, so for now I'll just say it was overwhelmingly amazing.  We went there to be hands and feet, and we saw over and over again that the Father is already working in so many ways.  And our team was blessed to be a part of it.  I am unbelievably thankful I had the opportunity to be His servant and to witness all that I did.  Wow.

Monday, February 24, 2014


It's been a crazy few weeks, I'm sorry I haven't been posting.  I leave for China on Thursday but just spent the most amazing weekend with my sweet DH and 70 other adoptive couples who get the good kind of crazy life we live. Super wonderful, fantastic, terrific, awesome, spectacular two days spent with parents who share our hearts for adoption. Feeling so filled up and honored to spend my time with the sweetest of friends.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

{Celebrate China} Versatility of Fried Rice

I love the versatility and flexibility of fried rice!  I admit I am somewhat new to cooking it, and I have absolutely no idea why I waited for so long.  It's the best "throw all of your leftovers together" side dish without needing any measurements for anything.  I had 2 cups of rice (maybe a tad more) in the fridge from a couple days ago, that I wanted to use up.  I also had some frozen and fresh vegetables - the perfect combination for vegetable fried rice.  I'm sure many of my readers are much more seasoned at whipping up fried rice, but if you aren't, let me tell you how easy it is!  Here are the ingredients I used, with no real measurements:

"Day old" rice
Sesame oil
Fresh minced garlic
3 eggs
Fresh chopped carrots
Frozen peas, thawed
Soy sauce
Fresh chopped green onions
Cracked pepper (white pepper might be better)

I heated up several tablespoons of sesame oil in the wok on medium heat (it's more oil than you think).  I threw in some fresh minced garlic (I thought about fresh ginger too, but didn't feel like chopping it up) and let that cook up for about a minute, and then I threw in 3 scrambled eggs.  After they cooked up, I mashed them into small pieces and then added in the fresh chopped carrots to cook a bit.  After a few minutes, I threw in the old rice and mixed everything together, still on medium heat.  Then I fold in the thawed peas.  After they were mixed, I added soy sauce to taste, along with a bit more sesame oil for flavor.  I threw in the chopped green onion and cracked some pepper over the rice.  I mixed everything together, adding a bit more sesame oil and soy sauce for flavor.  If you are a salt person, now would be the time to add that too.  And then time to eat!  Mmmmm, hao chi!

I am looking forward to creating a crab fried rice at some point with a bit of Old Bay.  And I've been pinning some other fun ideas as well, the possibilities are simply endless!

Monday, February 3, 2014

{Celebrate China} Our New Year Decor

I always enjoy getting inspiration from other bloggers, so I thought I'd share a bit of our Chinese New Year decorations, aside from our Fu Tree.  Our decorations aren't extravagant or plentiful, and are still in the growing stage, but I think it's fun to get festive!  I added a little this year, and will add a little each year in the future too.  And yes, I know that typically the couplets go on the outside of your home, but it's too cold and wet to leave them out there.  So I put them up in the kitchen instead.

If you blogged about your Spring Festival decorations, please share a link in the comments so I can be inspired by YOU!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

{Celebrate China} Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Our Spring Festival celebration has gotten off to a fabulous start!  We spent Friday with our dear friends dressing up in our Chinese silks and makings lots and lots of jiaozi!  I mixed up chicken, turkey, and beef fillings.  The turkey was definitely the favorite - it was mixed with Chinese cabbage and hen hao chi (literally meaning " very good eat").  If you are looking for some amazing jiaozi recipes, I highly recommend the cookbook, Asian Dumplings.  You won't be disappointed!  We did attempt to make our own dumpling wrappers but I gotta say, it's not my favorite thing.  Sweetie was able to do something with the dough when she came home from school, but we ended up with wrappers that were a bit too thick.  I think I'm sticking with the pre-made ones from the Asian market from now on, ha!

For dinner on Saturday night, I made my most favorite Chinese dish, Kung Pao Chicken.  I had never made it before, but I am thrilled with how it turned out!  I followed the recipe from RasaMalaysia exactly, except for adding thinly sliced carrots.  Even Sweetie had only good things to say, she loved it!  I also picked up a couple pork and salted egg-stuffed zong zi (a traditional dish served during Dragon Boat Festival, but available all year).  Yum.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

{Celebrate China} Her Birth Heritage

I can remember our China trip to adopt Sunshine like it was yesterday.  If I close my eyes, I can remember stepping off the plane, smelling "China", and hearing people speak Mandarin everywhere.  The food, oh the delicious food.  Making a fool out of myself trying to eat with chopsticks.  The hustle and bustle of everyday China going on around me.  The young children following after their mamas in split pants.  The food carts and street vendors.  The sweet little stores.  Chinese flute music.  The stunning architecture.  The lanterns hanging everywhere.  People willing to help in any way they could.  A country so beautifully alive and rich in culture.  A country I fell in love with.  The country where my precious daughter was born.

Before our adoption trip, I didn't realize how naive I was about my understanding of China.  I knew I was born in the year of the monkey on the zodiac calendar, but didn't know anything about celebrating Spring Festival.  I knew the basic things you learn in school about China, knowledge that is so limited and without a true appreciation of the country.  I didn't know much else about China except for how to say "nĭ hăo" and "zài jiàn" in an obvious American accent.  I didn't truly know the culture.  The holidays.  The traditions.  The language.  I didn't know why I needed to know.  I didn't realize how important it was for me to embrace my daughter's birth heritage.  But being in China was the beginning of a transformation for me.

I fell in love with China.  It has a beautiful culture to be celebrated.  As Sunshine's mama, I tried to learn everything I could about China while we were in country.  I took thousands of pictures to help me remember.  And through the years of being her mama, I have yearned to learn even more.  To joyfully embrace the culture that my daughter was born in and came to us from.  To find out about her beginnings as much as I can.


Because she needs to know who she is, where she came from.  Her Chinese heritage is a vital part of who she is and should be honored.  She is Chinese and American.  Both cultures make up the person she is growing into.  Neglecting to teach her about either one is a disservice, to her and to our family.  In order for her to know herself, she needs to know China.  Our family needs to know China.  To joyfully embrace it.  The holidays.  The traditions.  The language.  The beautifully rich culture.

Her Chinese heritage has become a part of our family, and I'm so thankful for that.  Although our household is American, China is very much alive also.  Sunshine has blessed us by being our daughter and sister, and also by sharing a culture we didn't know we'd adore so much.  We have more reason to celebrate holidays and be with family because of her birth heritage.  More reason to share traditional Chinese stories, learn the Mandarin tones, and sing "Liăng Zhī Láo Hŭ."  More reason to learn how to cook new foods, steam dumplings, and decorate for Spring Festival.  More reason to be forever connected to the country that is my daughter's birth heritage, to honor where she came from.

I am thrilled that tomorrow is a dumpling making day.  All day long.  And all the kids will join in on the fun, and we're bringing a couple friends along for the ride too.  It's a family and friend affair, one that is sure to be enjoyed by everyone.  We will be celebrating Spring Festival for the next 15 days in American Chinese fashion, with food, hóngbāo, music, crafts, and a very large FCC New Year party to round off the festivities.   Xīn nián kuài lè!  Mǎ nián dàjí, my friends!  Let the celebration begin!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

{Celebrate China} Moon Cookies

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is a Chinese holiday celebrated in September.  Moon Cakes are very popular at this time and are given to one another as gifts.  They are definitely an acquired taste and not my personal favorite, but they are exquisite works of art.  They probably aren't the kind of baking I want to try because of how involved they are (and because no one in my family cares for the flavor), but when I found wooden moon cookie molds, I felt like I hit the jackpot!  I know it's not Mid-Autumn Moon Festival time, but I made these cookies for a little sprinkle to send off my very dear friend, Melissa, to bring her sweet boy home from China.  I thought it'd be fun to post about these during my {Celebrate China} series.

I made them with a basic shortbread cookie recipe that I have posted below.  Aren't they pretty?

Basic Shortbread Cookie
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 1/3 cup butter (2 sticks plus 6 tbsp)
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
Sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add in the salt and vanilla extract, beat to combine.  Add in the flour, 1 cup at a time, beating on a lower speed until combined.  To make the cookies, I rolled 1-inch balls from the dough, and then lightly tapped one side of the dough ball in flour (to prevent sticking in the mold).  After that, I pushed the dough into the wooden moon cookie mold.  Two whacks on the counter popped the cookies out of the mold, and then I placed them onto a Pampered Chef baking stone.  I repeated this process for all of the dough, which made about 30 cookies.  It went surprisingly quickly and didn't take as long as I thought it would.  I baked the cookies for 70 minutes, which seemed to be the perfect time using the baking stones.  As soon as I pulled them out of the oven, I sprinkled them with some white sugar cookie sprinkles, but I'm sure granulated sugar would work just fine if that's what you have.

I will absolutely be making these again for Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.  They are the perfect alternative to moon cakes for our family, and they came together pretty quickly.  I'm sure it would be fun to sprinkle different colored sugar on them too!  They keep for a long time and actually taste better with age.  You'll need the wooden moon cookie molds from the Wokshop, but they are reasonably priced and were delivered quickly.  I highly recommend their shop.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

{Celebrate China} Our Fu Tree

I love the idea of combining our American traditions with Sunshine's Chinese heritage.  There are some Spring Festival customs that we can't do here (like setting off firecrackers), so creating some of our own blended traditions seems like a great idea.  When I saw a Chinese New Year tree on another adoptive mama's blog, I thought it was such a creative idea.  I am hoping to add to our ornaments while I'm in China, and eventually hope to decorate our big tree after the Christmas ornaments come down.  For now, I started with our small tree.  "Fu Tree" comes from the Chinese word "fu," which means good fortune.  It's also part of the city's name where Sunshine was born.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

{Celebrate China} Crab Wontons

I love crabmeat wontons.  Love them.  Every time we go to the local Chinese food restaurant, I have to order them.  They are expensive, but oh so delicious.  And yes before you ask, I realize that they are not authentic Chinese food, so it might be a little silly to be posting this in my {Celebrate China} series.  But they are definitely American-Chinese food, so I'm going with it :-)  I found several recipes online that looked like they'd work, but I also have a friend who is originally from the Philippines that cooks up some awesome, mouth-watering crab wontons.  When I asked him for his recipe, he offered to come over and show me how to do it.  Isn't he the sweetest?  You'll find the recipe and method at the bottom of the post!

Crab Wontons

a few stalks of green onion, washed and cut in small pieces
4-6 oz crab meat (or imitation crab meat), chopped
3 pkgs of cream cheese, softened
80 wonton wrappers
cooking oil for the deep fryer or pan

(If you want to add a bit of Maryland to your wontons, try adding 1/2-1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning to the filling also.)

To make the filling:
Living on the east coast, I choose locally caught and picked crabmeat.  We try to eat local seafood whenever we can, especially when it comes to crab.  Claw meat was just fine for this recipe (and it was cheaper - no need to buy the expensive stuff), but I had to sift through to pick out all the shells first.  After that, combine the crab, green onion, and cream cheese together in a bowl for the filling.  Make sure it's combined well, and then it's time to start filling the wontons.

To make the wontons:
(I used pre-made wonton wrappers from the Asian food market.  They are good quality and fry up very well - perfectly crusty but not too tough.)  Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the middle of a wonton wrapper, then fold opposite corners together to make a triangle with the wrapper and then pinch tightly.  You do not need to use water to seal the wrappers well.  Push the two open ends up toward the pinched corners to mimic flower petals, and fold together.  I didn't take enough pictures to show this process, but it really doesn't matter how you fold the wontons and they do not need to be sealed tightly closed.  Because they are fried, the wonton wrappers fry into place immediately and the filling stays inside.  Don't worry about your filling falling out, it just won't.  Repeat this process for each wonton until your filling is gone or you've used all the wrappers.  We had several helpers, hence all the teaspoons in the filling.  The wrappers filled much more quickly this way!

To fry the wontons:
If you are using a deep fryer, you'll want to fill it with oil and heat it up sometime while you are making the wontons (I used a Grand Pappy and it was perfect - I highly suggest this purchase!!).  We fried batches of 10 wontons at a time, but you'll need to do it based on the size of your frying area.  It takes only a few minutes, if that, for each batch.  It may be helpful to turn the wontons over with tongs while frying to make sure they are evenly fried.  Once they start browning, pull them out immediately and put them on a plate covered with paper towels to cool.  I used Helen Chen's Asian Spider Strainer to pull them out.  Repeat this process with all of the wontons and then be prepared for crab wonton heaven!  My whole family gobbled these up and are already asking for more.  Looks like I'm going to be making many more crab wontons in the future!

What's your favorite way to make wontons?  I'd love to give some other recipes a try!

Friday, January 24, 2014

{Celebrate China} Our New Year Library

With Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival) just around the corner, it seemed like a good time to post about our favorite books celebrating the holiday!  There are so many terrific books available!  Our library is still a little small and certainly in the "growing" stage, but here is a list of what we like to read during Spring Festival, along with explanations taken from Amazon:

A New Year's Reunion - "Little Maomao's father works in faraway places and comes home just once a year, for Chinese New Year. At first Maomao barely recognizes him, but before long the family is happily making sticky rice balls, listening to firecrackers, and watching the dragon dance in the streets below. Papa gets a haircut, makes repairs to the house, and hides a lucky coin for Maomao to find. Which she does! But all too soon it is time for Papa to go away again. This poignant, vibrantly illustrated tale, which won the prestigious Feng Zikai Chinese Children's Picture Book Award in 2009, is sure to resonate with every child who misses relatives when they are away--and shows how a family's love is strong enough to endure over time and distance."

The Beast Nian (iTunes e-book) - iTunes doesn't provide a good summary of this story, so I'll share my thoughts!  Although this is an e-book, I love that it tells the legend of Nian.  I haven't found many books that explain this story, and it's part of some of the traditions behind Spring Festival.  The illustrations are bright and colorful and the story tells the legend well.  Very young children might not do well with the beginning knowing that Nian is a monster who would sometimes hurt the villagers, but I think it's probably fine for most children. For $0.99, it's a bargain and you can listen to a narration in English or Chinese!

Bringing In The New Year - "This exuberant story follows a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each member of the family lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to put on new clothes and celebrate with family and friends. There will be fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade to help bring in the Lunar New Year. And the dragon parade in our book is extra long–on a surprise fold-out page at the end of the story. Grace Lin’s artwork is a bright and gloriously patterned celebration in itself! And her story is tailor-made for reading aloud."

Celebrate Chinese New Year - "Children have never had so many reasons to learn how Chinese people everywhere ring in the new and ring out the old. Celebrate Chinese New Year is the latest, timely addition to National Geographic’s popular Holidays Around the World series. With 25 colorful images and a simple, educational text, the book is a lively invitation to revel in this child-friendly, national and international holiday. Carolyn Otto brings the historical and cultural aspects of the Chinese New Year into focus, and young readers experience the full flavor of an event celebrated by over a billion people in China, and countless others worldwide."

The Dancing Dragon - "The Chinese New Year is about to begin. There's lots to do--tie strings of firecrackers outside, hang up red scrolls, bake special cakes, and sing New Year's songs. And when family and friends are gathered together, it's time for the parade to begin. This book folds out to reveal all the color and excitement of a traditional Chinese New Year celebration, complete with dancing dragon!"

Dragon Dance - "It's Chinese New Year and there are so many fun things to do! Shopping at the outdoor market for fresh flowers, eating New Year's dinner with the whole family, receiving red envelopes from Grandma and Grandpa, and best of all-watching the spectacular Chinese New Year's parade! Introduce the customs of Chinese New Year to even the youngest readers with this festive new lift-the-flap book."

The Great Race - "The Jade Emperor is concerned because his country does not have a calendar, and no one can tell one year from the next. He decides to hold a race across a great river, and the order in which the animals finish will determine the order of the years. The event is exciting as the creatures maneuver for position, only to be bested in the end by the clever Rat. In this retelling of the ancient legend, Casey maintains the pace well. Back matter includes information about the Chinese calendar in general, as well as the more specific Dragon Boat Festival and Moon Festival. The book is a visual treat, with illustrations in simple collage designs on acrylic and painted backgrounds placed in such a way as to keep the eye engaged and moving."

Sam And The Lucky Money - "It's Chinese New Year in Chinatown, and young Sam has four dollars of New Year money burning a hole in his pocket. As he and his mother are milling through the crowded streets--alive with firecrackers, lion dances, and shoppers--Sam accidentally steps on the foot of a homeless man who is buried in a pile of red paper. Flustered, Sam hurries back to his mother, and is soon distracted by the char siu bao and other sweets he might buy with his gift money. When he sees fish-tail cookies that remind him of toes, he remembers the old man again, and Sam starts to think of his "lucky money" in a new light."

The Year Of The Horse (new for us this year) - 2014 is The Year of the Horse! Hannah the horse has a wonderfully talented family and a very special friendship with a boy named Tom, but she wants more than that. She yearns to have special skills like those of her parents and relatives. When Tom offers to take his art teacher s newest painting to the governor in a far off capital, Hannah jumps at the chance to show a little horse can have a lot of courage.

This latest adventure in the Tales from the Chinese Zodiac follows The Year of the Snake (2013), Dragon (2012), Rabbit (2011), Tiger (2010), Ox (2009), Rat (2008), Pig (2007) and Dog (2006). Each book features a unique cast of a dozen creatures. In the Chinese lunar calendar, a special animal represents every year. Each creature symbolizes unique qualities and has a personality that people identify with.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

{Celebrate China} Children's Songs GIVEAWAY!

I love music.  My kids love music.  I can't really sing a note, but I do love to sing.   I think music is such a great way to change your mood when you need some uplifting.  It's a great way to memorize facts (like we do with our homeschool studies).  I also think it's a great way to connect with Sunshine's Chinese heritage.  We know several Chinese songs and sing them whenever we think of it - all three kids love to sing in Mandarin.  We listen to the songs in the car and have a lot of fun singing along.  My children's favorite is Xiao Xing Xing (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star).  It sounds like it might be difficult but I actually think it's easier to remember a different language through song versus rote memorization of vocabulary.  I would also think it could be very soothing for newly adopted children to hear the words of familiar songs from their parents.  During a time when everything is so confusing for them, what a sweet way to try to connect with our new children.

There are a handful of Chinese Children's Songs that everyone in China knows.  They are all in A Little Mandarin: Chinese Children's Classics.  I adore this album.  Not only does it have all the well-known songs, they are all sung by Toni Wang, a woman with a beautiful voice.  This makes it much easier to understand what she's saying to try to sing along!  So many children's songs are sung by children, and they are sometimes hard to listen to and even harder to understand.  You can get this collection of songs from Toni's website, A Little Mandarin for $9.99.  And you can enter the giveaway below to win a free copy for yourself!

1. Making a Phone Call - Da Dian Hua
2. Two Tigers - Liang Zhi Lao Hu
3. Little Duckling - Xiao Ya Zi
4. Sitting In A Row - Pai Pai Zuo
5. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - Xiao Xing Xing
6. Scale Song - Yin Jie Ge
7. Going To School Song - Shang Xue Ge
8. Find A Friend - Zhao Peng You
9. I Have A Pair Of Little Hands - Wo Yo Yi Shuang Xiao Xiao Shou
10. Rowing The Boat - Hua Chuan
11. Pulling The Radish - Ba Luo Bo
12. Doll & Littlebear Dancing - Yang WaWa He Xiao Xong Tiao Wu
13. One Penny - Yi Fen Qian
14. Rock-A-Bye - Yao A Yao
15. Happy Birthday - Sheng Ri Kuai Le

To help you out with the lyrics if you'd like to purchase this album (or win it in the giveaway below!), I am including the words for the songs we know.  I am a visual learner and can memorize the songs much faster if I can see the words - maybe it will be helpful for you too.  Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, but that isn't quite as important when singing.  Because of that, I have not included any indications of the tones, so just try to memorize what you can!  Also, without an understanding of how to read pinyin, some of the words will not look phonetic to you.  But hopefully reading them in conjunction with listening to the music will make it click.  It really is worth the effort to learn a few of these!

Two Tigers - Liang Zhi Lao Hu (tune of Frere Jacques)
Liang zhi lao hu, liang zhi lao hu
Pao de kuai, pao de kuai
Yi zhi mei you er duo
Yi zhi mei you wei ba
Zhen qi guai, zhen qi guai

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - Xiao Xing Xing
Yi shan yi shan liang jing jing
Man tian dou shi xiao xing xing
Gua zai tian kong fang guang ming
Hao xiang xu duo xiao yan jing
Yi shan yi shan liang jing jing
Man tian dou shi xiao xing xing

Going To School Song - Shang Xue Ge
Tai yang dang kong zhao
Hua er dui wo xiao
Xiao peng you zao zao zao
Bei zhe shu bao yao qu shang xue xiao
Wo qu shang xue xiao
Tian tian bu chi dao
Ai xue xi, ai lao dong
Zhang da yao wei ren min li gong lao

Find A Friend
Zhao ya zhao ya zhao peng you
Zhao dao yi ge hao peng you
Jing ge li ya wo wo shou
Ni shi wo de hao peng you

Happy Birthday
Zhu ni sheng ri kuai le
Zhu ni sheng ri kuai le
Zhu ni sheng ri kuai le
Zhu ni sheng ri kuai le

And if you are feeling especially industrious, HERE is the link for you to look up the lyrics for all the songs.  HERE is another link of A Little Mandarin's singer performing many of these songs live :)

Toni Wang, the author and singer in this CD has so graciously offered to donate 3 of her CDs for a giveaway!  She has even offered to send a few CDs to China with me when we leave in February!  How cool is that?!  She is such a sweet lady and understands the value of music for all children!  Enter the giveaway below to win one of her beautiful CDs!  You won't be disappointed if you score one!  Zhu ni hao yun!

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