Wednesday, February 17, 2010


We had another long weekend this week, and although I'm starting to sound boring saying it, I'm sure, these four-day weekends are simply luxurious.

We spent Saturday in a busy flurry of activity, making cakes and cookies for Valentine's Day and preparing for a little early Chinese New Year celebration.

We expanded on last year's festivities a bit, making paper lanterns,

M got out the Horrorgami book that he bought from a library book sale and which is crazy-hard,

I resurrected the Buddha Board and we (as in me) tried our hand at Chinese characters,

We refreshed the nature table with a little tiger (made by Grandpoppy for last year's birthday, and painted by me--finally--in December) and a candle for a friend-of-a-friend who is gravely ill.

I made our annual eggrolls for dinner, only they were out of wrappers at the grocery store (how is that possible?), so I thought I'd try and see if spring roll wrappers (of which I had a huge package) would work (they didn't). As Z would say, "Wot, wot, waaaaa!" At least my kick *ss sweet & sour sauce kicked *ss! I served the eggrolls with jade fried rice and azuki beans pureed with sugar (they Eden azuki beans were only 99 cents, and they're supposed to bring well being when eaten at New Year...only I failed to look up a recipe for them online ahead of time, and the closest thing I could find in one of my cookbooks was the fact that you can buy commercial bean paste--which is supposed to be the chocolate of Asia--made from azuki beans and did not go over as well as chocolate, I must say, but it was not bad, and even M ate it!)

I made the boys each a little envelope with red origami paper and the character for "happy" (M asked, "Why do you want us to be happy?") and stuffed a $5 bill inside. We didn't get to our books until the next day (The Story of Ping--which I remembered from my childhood and found at a used book store--and Daisy Comes Home; both books about China from the point of view of a pet fowl. What does this mean?) Next year I want to learn a Chinese fairy tale for our nightly storytelling and get some Chinese music to listen to.

Sunday we ferried our heart-shaped treats to visit with family and friends, including C's "other" brother who lives halfway around the world and whom we see only every few years. (Cookie recipe here...they rock!)

After a day of eating and ice-skating we left the first born there for a week (this was the start of the inexplicable and senseless Maine tradition of February Break) and E and Z spent two quiet, lazy days relaxing at home, engaging in "unstructured" play (that was the erstwhile box from our massive toilet paper served as an excellent "Trash Can Monster" costume for several days before it met its demise).

Hiking out trail for the first time since we lost E and he threw up (didn't I tell you about that one?)

Finding fresh pileated woodpecker excavations (yes my children go into the woods packing plastic...and for some reason Z wanted to wear his doll's sleeping bag for a hat. He called it his "Japanese hat"...not sure where that come from.) Here are some woodpecker holes in that same tree last April.

Discovering "forts" in patches of melted snow.

Checking out the river ice. After sitting by, and breaking off chunks of, the ice for a while, E and Z slid down onto the ice on the river. It had heaved up and broken into big chunks after a massive rain a few weeks ago, and settled back down, with new ice sealing in the cracks. I really don't know why I let them go out, because intellectually I knew it has not been cold enough for the ice to be safe, but it was covered with animal tracks and just seemed so inviting (to us all, apparently). I made my way after them (it was really a small hill of ice we had to go down) and when I stepped where two chunks of ice had come together, my foot went right down through the rotten ice and into the black river water below. The ice block we had come down and the one they were on now were quite safe, but the hole I made could easily have swallowed a four-year-old. We gingerly made our way over the rotten ice and back onto dry land. I think it was a good object lesson in why you never go out onto ice unless you know for sure it's safe. (We were well upstream of that open channel of water you see in this picture, Mom).

On the way back home, Z bushwhacked through the woods and forged his own trail to the field.

I felt compelled to rid our house of dust and spent much of Monday and Tuesday dusting, vacuuming, mopping and even washing throw blankets and E and Z's play dishes. Partly due to reading this book, and partly a way of resisting other things--completing a certain writing assignment I needed to have done this week, finishing up my Inside Out class (the fourth and final week wrapped up last Friday, and I'm still stuck in the middle of week three). Maybe a little spring fever mixed in there too.

I even found another "heart in nature" for next year's Valentine cards. What do you think it should say inside, "You have a heart of stone, Valentine"?


Update: I forgot to link to the book that has me going crazy trying to remove the dust from my house: The Body Toxic by Nena Baker.


  1. You are certainly raising the bar for what to do with kids on a holiday weekend! But what I love here is the sense of family and fun that permeated every activity.

  2. Amazing weekend! Educational, loving, exciting. You are a wonderful mom. Love the wood tiger, too!

  3. The pics of the kids with the plastic guns on your walk reminds me so much of my own boys. They 'pack' in the woods too. You are my inspiration concerning all things family-celebration/long weekend. It looks peaceful and creative just looking at the photos.

  4. OK, it's official. You really DO need to homeschool!

    Meanwhile, I am totally into Z's hat selection.

  5. Oh my goodness, this is a whole lot of goodness in one post :). It looks like you all had a fantastic time. Thanks for sharing


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