Lunar New Year 2021

Photo by Dyana Wing So on Unsplash

Lunar New Year is coming up on February 12, 2021, and I’m already thinking about how our family will celebrate it.

Normally we get together with my parents and Popo (grandmother). But because of Covid, we won’t be doing that. Like so much of this past year, every celebration and communal tradition during the pandemic is a disappointing version of the real thing. But that’s what we’re all doing. Instead of the rituals of giving red envelopes with money, making copious amounts of food, and going to Chinatown to watch the lion dances, we’ll do a simpler celebratory meal with our family of 6.

Here’s what I’m thinking of making:

  • Wonton or Jiaozi Dumplings
  • Long Life Noodles
  • Szechuan Eggplant
  • Char Siu
  • Almond Float
  • Chinese Pretzels

I can’t imagine Lunar New Year without traditional Chinese food like noodles and dumplings. Some of these dishes I grew up eating, and others I’ve picked up along the way once I began cooking more. Wonton in particular is fun to make with the whole family. Everyone in the family (minus the baby) helps with the chopping, mixing, and wrapping.

As we eat, we’ll remember and honor our family and ancestors, and look ahead to the Year of the Ox.

For those who celebrate Lunar New Year, I’d love to hear what you usually do to celebrate, and how you plan to celebrate this year. Please share in the comments!

If you’re looking for more Chinese recipes, here are a few favorites from my archives:

Happy 4th Birthday, Aria

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I write letters to my children on their birthdays. Here is last year’s letter to Aria.

Dear Aria,

Happy 4th birthday!

What a year you’ve had. A great year of new things, like preschool, moving from a car seat to booster seat, transitioning completely out of pull-up diapers (YAY!), learning to write your name, figuring out how to fold your laundry the KonMari way, and finding new things that you love.

Currently, you love playing Memory, creating art, eating instant ramen, having books read out loud to you, singing songs from Doc McStuffins, telling us about your friends at preschool, riding on your scooter, and cleaning windows with what you call “window-dex” (aka Windex). Most days you dress up in creative, colorful outfits, which accurately reflects your exuberant personality.

You add so much joy and flair everywhere you go. You are confident, and able to jump into lots of new situations with excitement. There are so many unique and special things about you, Aria.

I hope this next year brings new discoveries and adventures.

Hugs, kisses, and lots of love,

Mommy

Reflections on 2018

Happy New Year (2)

Happy New Year’s Eve!

As we enter the new year, my annual tradition is to take time to reflect on the past year. It helps me to remember what I learned, step back and take a deeper look, and embrace the coming new year. Here are my reflections from 2017.

1. What was the best thing that happened this year?

A lot of good things happened this year, so I’m cheating and listing several highlights.

  • I started a women’s discipleship group with some really amazing, world-changing people.
  • Steve and I connected with the Underground Network, an incredible wealth of ministry mentors and friends.
  • All three of our kids transitioned into new schools, and thrived.
  • Steve made a leap into a new career as a mortgage loan officer, and it’s been such a good fit.

2. What was the most challenging thing that happened?

I had several challenging situations that forced me to consider, “What’s my role in this? And what is not mine?” In other words, how do I respond with love and compassion, as well as wisdom? And how do I determine my place between what IS and IS NOT my responsibility to handle? I turned these questions over and over in my heart for a good part of this year.

3. What was an unexpected joy?

There were a few hours each week when all our kids were in school, and I had time to myself. The joy and freedom! I really loved having quiet and solitude in these moments.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

Feeling tired. Despite trying to maintain healthy habits – enough sleep, healthy food and vitamins, regular exercise – there have been days when I wake up, and just do not feel rested.

5. Pick three words to describe 2018.

Try. Nurture. Adventure.

6. What were the best books you read this year?

Another Place at the Table – The personal and startlingly honest account of a woman’s thirteen-year experience as a foster parent.

The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth – Of the many Enneagram books I’ve read, this is the one I keep coming back to and recommending to others. It is rich with wisdom about the Enneagram, and serves as a guide for those seeking a practical way to God and deep transformation.

Columbine – An in-depth account of the tragic mass shooting that has reverberated for decades, and how much of what we “know” is wrong. The book is by Dave Cullen, one of the first reporters on the scene, and this makes his corrections and critiques on media coverage all the most insightful.

7. What did you do in 2018 that you’ve never done before?

I found a new hobby – boxing. I needed a way to exercise, release stress, and work out my anger. So I hung a punching bag in our garage, and that’s my cardio.

8. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

For 2018, here were my goals and the results:

  • Exercise 3-4 times a week. I did an okay job with this. Tracking this in my Bullet Journal was helpful.
  • Meet with a spiritual director monthly. Nope, did not do this.
  • Invest in a few primary peer friendships. Yes, I did this. Success.
  • Do the Life Reflection once a week. I probably did this every month or so.

As far as keeping my 2018 resolutions, I give myself a C+/B-.

For 2019, here are my resolutions:

  • Spend time and energy on meaningful things.
  • Make disciples who make disciples.
  • Help my kids love God and love people.
  • Do things with faith and love.
  • Ask for help.

9. For what are you most grateful?

Our extended family (both Steve’s side and mine). Mentors who have given me guidance and wisdom. Our Bluewater faith community that keeps me growing and trying.

10. How did you change this year?

I take things less seriously, and have a bit more humor. That’s a good thing for me.

11. What moments were most memorable?

The false ballistic missile threat alert that freaked out everyone in Hawaii, and prompted me to create an emergency kit. A generous friend gifting us with a staycation in Waikiki. Camping out at Aloha Stadium to get Bruno Mars tickets. The passing of my friend and mentor, Jen.

12. What were your greatest discoveries?

  • Spotify
  • Habit tracking with a Bullet Journal
  • Dry shampoo
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix

13. What are you looking forward to this coming year?

I am looking forward to new adventures.

14. What was the most significant thing you learned this year?

It is a worthy endeavor to seek and find what is eternal.