Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chinese New Year

So for those not familiar, Chinese New Year is probably the most important and celebrated holidays in countries and territories like China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and even Korea.  The date is different every year because it follows the Lunar Calendar and the holiday actually lasts for 15 days.  

This year is the year of the Dragon.  According to a chinese legend, the animals of the planet were called together for a race.  The first twelve winners represent the twelve animals signs that became the Chinese zodiac, each supposedly with their specific characteristics.  You probably have seen this on a place mat in a chinese restaurant.  Well, the dragon is considered the most auspicious and lucky of all the animals so usually folks will want their children to marry or have babies in the Year of the Dragon.  So watch out hospitals... there will likely be a lot of chinese babies born this year!

So what do families do to celebrate chinese new year?  

I actually had to google because I can tell you all I remember most from my childhood about chinese new year is getting the red envelopes!  Money is stuffed inside the red envelopes and I remember receiving envelopes from grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  So here are some traditions about the red envelopes:

  • generally given from married to unmarried (so that is why usually children receive red envelopes)
  • can put the red envelope under the pillow while child is asleep new year's eve
  • should be an even number amount and numbers ending in eight is goodluck, so $8 or $88
  • avoid number four in amount because pronounced in mandarin it sounds like "death" (so bad luck)
  • should be a new bill
  • avoid coins so cannot judge amount before opening
  • not supposed to open in front of relatives

Here are some other customs and superstitions:

  • clean the house before the new year to rid of all things associated with the old year
  • get together with close family for "reunion dinner" on new year's eve (I'll mention food later)
  • open windows/doors at midnight (to let go of the old year)
  • wear new clothes and new shoes on new year's day
Foods that may be served for New Year's Eve:
  • fish and chicken - for prosperity
  • noodles - for long life
  • oranges/tangerines - good health, "being fruitful and multiplying"
  • persimmons - happiness and wealth
  • sweet rice cake - again for prosperity
  • red and gold to represent happiness and wealth
If you go to any Chinatown around this time of year, I'm sure you will catch a ton of festivities including dragon dancing and firecrackers.  

Maybe next year I'll actually try to do more with my kids.  This year, we spent time eating with family and I had fun dressing them all up in chinese traditional clothing.

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Midnight Feeds

My little E has hit six months now and we have started to train him to fall asleep on his own.  Yes, we do want him to sleep through the night... however, there is something about nursing in the middle of the night that is still so sweet and precious.  Here I have a rare moment where it is only about him and me.  No older sibling clamoring for my attention or a million tasks half performed.  Usually, it is dark and quiet and everyone else is asleep.  

While he snuggles in my arms, I'd play with his hair, stroke his soft cheeks, and rub his tummy and feet.  Sometimes I can't help but enthusiastically plant kisses on his forehead at the risk of waking him completely and upsetting his feed.  In return, he will pull at my hair, grab for my nose, and stick his fingers in my mouth.  He is my third and likely my last... so I want to treasure every moment.

Goodnight little one... sweet dreams... stay small...  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Running a Marathon

Last year, I ran the Philly marathon while 9 weeks pregnant with kiddo #3.  Nuts... I know.  Well, it was on my bucket list and I figured I'd run for a cause.  I blogged about it here.  Since I had been training long hours for months and was raising funds for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I figured it'd be much harder to postpone the race a year and re-train with 3 small kiddos at home.  I also figured if I liked it enough maybe I'll run another one... maybe next time with kiddo #3 outside of my tummy instead of inside!  Hm... if I wait for him to be around 18 I'll be in my 50's!

So I was sad when I read that 2 runners died in the Philadelphia Marathon this year.  An article today from MedPage Today claims that marathons pose little risk to the heart.  Bottom line when they look at the number of people who run and the number of people who actually have heart events, the incidence rate of a coronary event is 0.54 per 100,000 participants.  Some other key interesting points from the article:
  • in 2010 about 2 million people in the US ran long distance (doubled from 10 years ago)
  • out of 10.9 million runners only 59 had cardiac arrests and 71% of those were fatal
  • cardiac arrest more likely in marathons than half-marathons
  • men are more likely to have an event than women
  • if there is a cardiac event, better survival rate is among participants older than 40 (younger participants tend to have hypertrophic  cardiomyopathy where resuscitation is less successful)

I thought another interesting point is some higher risk heart folks may be attracted to long distance running thinking it is good for them.. but ultimately it will backfire.

So if you are thinking of running a marathon or something crazy like that.. make sure you get a check up with your physician.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Family Reunions

Happy New Year, everyone!

We just came back from a large family reunion in Houston. My paternal grandmother lives there along with 3 paternal aunts. Getting together is special because she is turning 95 and we don't know how many more such reunions she will have left. Though travel was tiring and always a bit stressful, it was well worth it and a ton of fun. Imagine a bunch of great grandkids ages 3 mos to 4 years old running around. We even gathered the crew for some formal photos at the local mall. We wanted a photo of great grandma with her great grandchildren (alone without the adults). Very tricky... the poor photographer was only able to get one shot in and it is actually a pretty hilarious picture now hanging on my grandma's wall.

Oh and getting a carseat bag was a great decision. It is free to check in and we were able to stuff some bedsheets, diapers, bottles etc in there as well!

I just re-read my blog last year about travelling with infants/toddlers. What a difference a child's temperament can make. Our boy is a much easier baby than our second child... and our second child is a much easier toddler than our first! Our oldest is much easier to deal with now as a 4 year old who can cut, draw, paint, color etc. So even though we travelled with three kids this time, it was overall less stressful and eventful than when we travelled with just two last year or even when we travelled with just one child when our oldest was a baby! Ofcourse having my parents as extra pair of hands was helpful... 4 adults to 3 kids. They mostly watched the baby. I kept my oldest occupied with crafts and my husband sat with our middle child, who is happy as a clam when there are snacks around. Only towards the ends of the flight did we have to pull out Elmo videos for the middle child while our 4 year old enjoyed some cupcake app on daddy's ipad.

Overall, flying this time around went smoothly! We travelled enough times now to expect that they will pull my pump bag aside to check it for... oh I don't know... a hidden bomb? We also now know to put all the sippy cups and milk bottles in a separate bag because they always take that aside and test that, too. Seems silly, but I suppose it is all for safety.

So now... getting back into the daily routine...