7 Quick Takes Friday: The Chinese New Year, a secret, and what-did-you-just-ask-God-for edition



Happy Chinese New Year! Xin Nian Kuai Le! Gong Hei Fat Choi! Do you have any plans to celebrate? We have several parties over the next two weeks and we’ll be enjoying plenty of Chinese food. I think my older sister might even talk me into making homemade dumplings again.



For the first time I am going to Daniel’s classroom to talk about Chinese New Year. I’m no expert, but I know more than your average preschooler. I’m bringing a Chinese New Year book to read, Chinese red envelopes to distribute if I can figure out what to put inside that is safe for 2-year-olds (I’m not giving out the traditional cash), dragon mask materials for each child, and bubble wrap for the children to jump on to make “fireworks.”



Daniel went with me to the store tonight to request free paint sticks, and the man behind the paint counter kindly gave us 30. Who could say no to a 4-year-old as cute as Daniel?

Naturally, the store came out ahead because we also bought two sledding saucers so the boys can race through the snow. As we were checking out, I said to the cashier, “If I buy these sleds, it won’t snow again this year, right?”

“That’s how it works,” she said.

You can all thank me if Baltimore is a balmy 33 degrees next week.


Now, of course, you want a dragon mask of your very own. Here is the mask we are making. You can put holes in the sides and use yarn, but I thought it would be simpler to tape each mask to a paint stick.



I’m not sure what’s a worse idea, trying to have young children stand still so you can tie a mask to their faces or giving them all sticks.

Daniel thought the mask was an all right idea, but a paint stick! Now that’s a celebration in and of itself.


The other night Daniel said to me, “Mama, can I say something to God?”

“Of course!” I said—just a little proud and pleased.

“God,” he said, very seriously, “please send us more children.”

“That’s very nice,” I said. “How many did you have in mind?”

“I don’t know,” Daniel said.

So his big brother took over. “God, please send us…” and he stopped to count in his head “EIGHT more children! Then we would have 10—10 boys!”

I have no doubt God was listening. I wonder whether He laughed as hard as I did later when I was telling John.


Can you keep a secret? I’m going to be the mystery reader for Leo’s class next week. I get to sneak in with a few books and surprise him—and his class—by reading for 20 minutes.

I can’t wait! I keep bugging my sister, who’s a children’s librarian, for book suggestions and advice. It is really hard to decide what to read.



I want to do at least one book with a Catholic theme, and I’m trying to decide between The Weight of a Mass and Tomie de Paola’s Christoper: The Holy Giant. I love reading Bee Bim Bop and The Little Engine that Could, but I don’t want Leo to feel that I’m reading a “baby” book to his class, and those are two we read him when he was younger. So I’m leaning toward Goldie Socks and the Three Liebearians, even though I know Leo’s choice would be Ninjago: Snake Attack.

What would you read if you were in my mystery reader shoes?


Lately it is freezing outside—or as Leo is quick to correct me, “No, Mama, it’s below freezing.” So we have been finding a lot of indoor activities.

The other day I poured dry rice onto plates and let the boys play with their construction vehicles.



They had a great time, and it was easy to clean up afterward.

What are some fun indoor activities you’re enjoying at your house?


The other day when I was shopping for groceries, I struck up a conversation with another customer. She had her baby girl with her, and I offered to let her go ahead of me in line.

“I’m all alone,” I said, “and you might be on borrowed time.”

I’ve never had an infant, but I just assume that anyone with a child might need to flee at any moment. But she was quite casual, and said her baby was sleeping.

“It would be different if my 2-year-old were here,” she said. We laughed about how hard it can be to shop with children, and before I knew it we were talking about infants and how her baby was just starting to sleep a little more.

It was just a pleasant, light conversation. But after we said goodbye, part of me felt as if I had concealed something since she was assuming—as anyone would—that I had raised my children since infancy. I knew that if I had shared that we adopted our sons as toddlers, the conversation would become all about me. But as silly as it might sound, I felt just a little dishonest.


When we went out to dinner as a family last night, we decided to go to a restaurant Leo and Daniel love because they have crayons and paper on the tables.



It was so relaxing. I think I only told Daniel to sit down a dozen times. I told John maybe we need to get paper for our table at home so we can have more peaceful mealtimes. When I was growing up, my parents used candles on the dinner table because they believed it kept their six children calmer.

If God answers our sons’ prayers for a family of 12, I think we’ll need more candles—or lots of paper. Of course, since we’ll have to have bunk beds in the dining room, we may not have anywhere to put the table.

Read more quick takes at Jen’s Conversion Diary.

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