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“Zero to Hero”Day 23: Chinese New Year Decorations and Sweets

Another Snow day yesterday for us here…. It’s okay because we got extra time to prepare for the Chinese New Year and I got to catch up with the ZERO TO HERO wordpress blog challenge!

Yesterday we made a meihwa new year’s tree.  I found the meihwa/plum blossoms at JoAnn..


Strings and red envelope (Ang Pao)


Then we just hang them on the tree!


VOILA!  The Chinese New Year Tree…. Back home, you can find big tree like this BIG meihwa tree ….  They are more decorated too… But I like mine!  I like that we are teaching our kiddos the tradition!


Here is the rest of the decoration!

1. Meihwa tree:  Do you know mei hwa is PLUM BLOSSOMS! Plum blossoms is one of my favorite flower because they are very unique! These are the facts why they are so special! Do you know that  plum blossoms are winter flowers.  It usually bloom in late winter or early spring.  They are kind of similar to cherry blossoms.  In DC there are cherry blossoms tree everywhere and they usually bloom in March.They will blossom from a tree branch that seems dead, came out before the leaves!  A flower that came out of what seems a “dead bark/branch, the blossoms show courage, hope, and beauty!

2. Oranges = gold, Tangerine=luck…. So having oranges and tangerines during Chinese new year celebrations is  a must because they symbolically mean good luck and prosperity!

3. A red envelope (紅包, hóngbāo) … red is for good luck for Chinese people 🙂 This was always what I was waiting for when I was a child back home!  You will receive it ONLY after you “pai pai” or pay respect by putting your fist together and say,” Kiong hi, Kiong hi, Xin Nian Kuai Le or Gong Xi Fa Choi”  Loosely translated : Happy New Year!” Usually married working couples would give them to children and elderly.


4. Golden peanuts on the glass container to the right of the tree represents longevity. Chocolate in pretty red and gold wrapper next to it also means prosperity!

5. Tray of togetherness next to the oranges.  In the middle is kumquat candies for wealth and prosperity. Kumquat is a type of oranges.The big flat orange color candies are lotus root candies  for purity. Next are candies with watermelon seeds inside for fertility, joy and happiness. The colorful coconut ribbons  for togetherness and family unity! Next to the coconut ribbons are lotus seeds for prosperity and many kiddos!  Candied melon for good health and growth. I have to skip the one compartment because I don’t know what the flat candy is. The round white candies to the left of the orange lotus root are longans for bringing many good sons!  🙂 There are 8 trays… 8 is a lucky number for Chinese… Usually you would include 5 spice peanuts.  I don’t know how to make it but if you would like to make the peanuts, here is the recipe for five spice long life peanuts


Hope you are having fun preparing for the Chinese New Year!  It is so hard to keep the family heritage and tradition alive in our children’s lives… This was the most important celebration that I celebrate when I was home.  In America, we will try the best we can to keep it alive.  Here is another Asian’s family account to keep the tradition alive too. She has an interesting blog as well that you may enjoyed! Little Passport

Let’s celebrate the coming of the YEAR OF THE HORSE!


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Snow Day 2: Practice takes you higher

To all my teacher friends…. I have been trying to find another “race” to track practice minutes… So here is what I came up with.  Of course the kids helped yesterday  (Sunday) since it was snowing pretty bad here.

They helped with the letters


J helped me cut them after we put contact papers on…


He was the one that put them together on the wall as well!


Finally!  This is how it works for my piano students…

1. Each student has to keep log of how many minutes they practice at home (with parent’s signature)… A minimum of 10 min a day is required!

2. When they come for lesson they will show me.  They can move their monkey accordingly.

3. Once they reach the top, they can take a coconut and start a coconut pile!

4. If they don’t have at least 3 practices in a week they will GO BACK to the bottom!

5. The winner with the most coconut will be announced in the next recital (June)

6. This time all 3 kiddos want to be included in the race too… so their names are included!




Snow Day 1 = Productive day (sometimes)!

So we got snowed in yesterday and today….  So far the kiddos and I have been productive… They were somewhat motivated that it’s 7 days before Chinese New Year so we must clean the house and make it look good!

Yesterday, J asked me to teach him how to do laundry… of course I said, “YES!” He did his own laundry!


Then he taught his brother how to do his laundry!


Then S decided to help me and he organized the breakfast closet!


When Daddy came home from ballet with mei mei, we decided to start working on the “homework station” down in the basement!


By 11 pm last night we got the finished product!  Yes, it took us that long because we watched 2 movies for a break! 🙂

The labels are in post it because we need to know what will work best for us.  Any suggestion friends??  I have SO MANY PAPERS to keep up from school! 😦

We decided on this routine last night when they come home from school:

1.Put homework on their own tray on the top of the shelf.

2. Put their “take home folders” in the top box.

3. Put any projects, worksheets reading logs in the middle box

4. Put past/returned tests and homeworks in the bottom box.

Will it work?  I don’t know… we’ll have to see about that! 🙂 I will keep you posted of what works and doesn’t work…

If any of you has a suggestion for me… Please comment and let me know! What works in your home?





“Zero to Hero” Day 16: Confession..I am not a super mom!

Today challenge was taken from the Daily Prompt : 

Do you have a reputation? Well, many of my friends called me a SUPER MOM!

What is it, and where did it come from? I think they call me a SUPER MOM because I am in grad school, teaching and seems to have it together, plus all the extra fancy cookies and cakes I managed to make for my kiddos..

Is it accurate? ABSOLUTELY NOT!! I never feel that I am a super mom..In fact my reply is usually, ” I am NOT!” I am usually embarassed… and deep inside thinking, “If only they knew…. :-)”

What do you think about it?

Obviously I don’t think I am a super mom and this is the reason why: (The truths are in red)

1. I am not in a graduate program by choice.  I am in a graduate program because God told me so.. Since he owned me I better do what HE says. If you want to know why, read:  the path I didn’t choose

2. Making cookies like for Halloween does NOT make you a super mom… It just mean that you are a mom who like to bake…Some moms sew… some moms loves to clean and organized (NOT ME!) I like to bake 🙂


THE TRUTH: We had to bake that day because I HAD A SUPER BAD DAY at work!  If we didn’t bake, I would have cried ALL DAY!  So we baked to distract me… That way, my kids focused their creativity into something more productive than making messes at home that would drove me over the edge that day! Not to mention that they were practicing their fine motor skills and concentration! 🙂 


3. Throwing super cool birthday parties do NOT make you a super mom either 🙂 You know that I didn’t come up with those ideas… That’s why we all LOVE GOOGLE!! 🙂

Yes, there was smoke coming out of that chocolate cake volcano…


Yes, he actually able to SHOOT those little angry birds and knocked down the pigs on the wafer blocks


and little snow white party was a success…


THE TRUTH:  Most of the time the kids’ birthday parties were 2, 3 or even 5 weeks late because they had to be according to MY SCHEDULE!  We usually had a small family dinner on the day.  Then, when I don’t have anything due, I called friends (YES, it is usually the last minute :-). Lately, I got a great trick : I ordered the cake from the grocery store, then decorated it!  An example would be that snow white birthday cake 🙂

Why did I throw such parties?  Because my children are precious and they mean the world to me!  I often feel so GUILTY when they came to me and say ,” Mommy can we play or do you have homework?”  ” Mommy, are you staying home today?  I want to play with you…” So making their BIRTHDAY’s WISH come true is one way for me to let them know that their BIRTHDAY is very important and special to me!

4. I have it all together, my kids are doing well in school and my life seems to be in order..

THE TRUTH: Not really!  My kids are doing well because we invested in them since they were little.. They read so well because we always find the time to read to them!

My house is clean and organized (if you announced your visit few days prior 🙂 )because my friend who happens to be my childcare provider/house manager is AMAZING!! I don’t know what I would do without her! Usually, if you didn’t let me know ahead of time.. it is MESSY because I didn’t have time to hide everything down in the basement 🙂

Laundry gets done and I can do my homework because my husband is AMAZING!!!

I am not a supermom… Do you know that I told people I turn into a mean witch by 10 pm because I am so tired and cranky 🙂  I have yelled at my kids.. I have lost it too… My best friends know what can happen when I am stressing out beyond my limit 🙂

I am still preserving my sanity right now because I have so many wonderful girlfriends that I can laugh with when I had a very bad day or week… Then come home to super sweet one of a kind family that love kisses and hugs…

So I AM NOT a super mom at all!! 

If I have to nominate someone to be a super mom, I would say that parents of children who have special challenges ARE SUPERMOMS!  If I have to pick one, I would have to pick Michael Phillips’ mom! Have you heard about him?

He is a 30+ years old man who is a “computer gamer” that has spinal muscular atrophy.  He can not move his muscles 😦  He used to communicate by typing with his thumb. Now he is typing with his eyebrows.  Watch him!! You will look at your life with a different perspective!

I work with children with severe challenges. Some as severe… some less severe… Regardless of what their challenges are, their moms are full of HOPE and they don’t give up… THESE MOMS deserve to be called SUPER MOMS… not me!

Happy Friday everyone! 🙂



“Zero to Hero” Day 15: Free picmonkey for graphic editing


I decided to explore more design aspect of blogging.

Michelle told me about picmonkey… turned out that they have a FREE DAY deal!


So click on that link if you want a free day to experiment with graphic to help with this challenge.