Kpop: Cosmic Girls

Have you adjusted to Daylight Savings yet?  Because we’ve all been dragging ourselves through this week.  Trying to cajole E out of bed at what was effectively 5:10am so he could dose for his milk OIT therapy was rough!  And I still haven’t even started on our taxes yet, gah.  If anyone needs me this weekend I’ll be curled up on the couch watching tv and hiding from reality.

Just a reminder, you still have time to enter the giveaway for that kids’ book about Chinese emperors I reviewed.  It ends Saturday night.

To kick off the weekend, here’s a couple versions of a song by new Kpop group WJSN (also known as Cosmic Girls).  WJSN / Cosmic Girls is made up of Korean and Chinese girls (to maximize marketability?) which is interesting…and there are TWELVE of them.

This is the official version of their video for “MoMoMo” which is a cute song.

And here is the “choreo” version of the video. Official Kpop videos usually feature a narrative intercut with a dance routine but a lot of groups release videos which are basically a dance practice so you can see the whole routine.  They’re filmed simply but I like them because the routines are usually great.  And with twelve girls this routine is impressive.

I hope you have a good weekend.  See you next week!

Review and Giveaway: What Was it Like, Mr. Emperor?

Bowls of Happiness
Bowls of Happiness

I was recently sent two books published by the China Institute to review, Bowls of Happiness and What was it Like, Mr. Emperor?  When I was in college I took a few Asian history classes and a Chinese calligraphy class and have been interested in Asian studies ever since.  I was interested in see what the books were like and what my kids would think.

Bowls of Happiness ($10.91 at Amazon) features Piggy, a little girl whose mother is a potter.  Piggy’s mom makes her a ceramic bowl and as they try to decide how to decorate it Piggy enters the world of traditional Chinese pottery motifs.  The second half of the book is more academic in tone and contains more detailed information about pottery designs.

Excerpt from "Bowls of Happiness"
Page from “Bowls of Happiness”

The book is lovely with a letterpressed cover, cute illustrations, and colorful photos of real Chinese bowls.  It’s a pleasing way to learn about different Chinese pottery motifs.  At the same time, I’m not quite sure who’s the target audience for this book.  While the story about Piggy may hold the attention of preschoolers, the more academic second-half is more for teenagers and adults.  While it’s a charming little book, I can’t see myself purchasing it on my own.

"What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor?"
“What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor?”

I really enjoyed, What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? ($8.90 at Amazon) It is an installment in the “We All Live in the Forbidden City” series by the China Institute in America.

What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? is a well-illustrated, info-packed look at the everyday lives of Chinese emperors.  The illustrations are done in a kid-friendly cartoon style.  The book covers a lot of material in an accessible way: notable emperors, how the emperor was chosen, how he was educated, what type of food he eat, who lived in the palace with him, etc… I was so entertained that I sat down and read the book straight through.

Page from "What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor?"
Page from “What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor?”

What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? is recommended for ages 8 and up and I think that’s appropriate.  E loves catalogs of information (Pokemon, anyone?) and he has enjoyed learning interesting facts from the book. Younger kids will enjoy the illustrations and diagrams while older kids can more fully absorb the text information.

I would recommend the book if your child is interested in China.  It seems like a lot of kids I know are studying Chinese and I can see this book coming in very handy for school reports 🙂  It’s a good one to have in your library.

The publisher has kindly offered to send one reader (in the U.S.) a copy of What Was It like, Mr. Emperor?

To enter, leave a comment on this post by midnight (Mountain Time) on Saturday, March 19, 2016.

A winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email.  Good luck!

Taxes and this and that

Wow, this week kind of got away from me.  I’m so glad it’s Friday.  I’m excited to sleep in tomorrow but less excited about getting started on my taxes. *gulp*

Meanwhile, here are a few things I saw online and wanted to share

Throughly charmed by these photos of Japanese mascots dealing with the tight spaces of city life.

This has shook me to my core; I’ve been using post-it notes wrong this whole time.

Aww…Penguin swims 5,000 miles every year for reunion with the man who saved his life

Yum…I made a double batch of this green sauce and made enchiladas using leftover pulled pork from last week and it was tasty! And now I have 4 bags of leftover sauce in my freezer which makes me feel extremely satisfied 🙂

That’s it for now.  I’m working on a book review for Monday that includes a giveaway.  If you’re interested in China or have a kid who will study China at some point you won’t want to miss it.  And between you and me, your chances of winning are probably pretty good 😉

Hope you have a nice weekend.  See you next week!

Hour of the Bees

We had a really good weekend.  We took the kids to see Zootopia which we all enjoyed and then N and I went on a date and had some delicious Pakistani food.  I want to write more about both of those things, but today I wanted to let locals know about a fun event.

Lindsay Eager’s debut middle reader novel, Hour of the Bees*, is being released today and there’s a book launch party tonight.  Lindsay is my friend and neighbor’s daughter and while I haven’t read Hour of the Bees yet (I’m picking up my copy at the party tonight) reviews seem to like it.

The synopsis from the publisher:

While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina–Carol–is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandparents she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge, who is meaner than a rattler and speaks in dizzying circles. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible–and what it means to be true to her roots.

If you’re local and enjoy children’s lit or have a kid you think would like the book (me on both counts), come to the release party tonight!  There’s going to be an author presentation, salsa bar, local honey tasting, and cupcakes.  I’m going to be there 🙂

March 8th, 6:30pm
The Gardens at Dry Creek
877 North 100 East
Lehi, UT

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Kpop: Mamamoo

The girl group Mamamoo is one of my favorite Kpop groups right now.  All four of the girls can really sing and I like their retro sort of jazzy sound.

This song, Taller Than You, is catchy and cracks me up.  Height can be a big thing for Kpop idols and it’s fun that they have a sense of humor about it.  The official version didn’t have subtitles so I found a file that did because the lyrics are funny.

This other song, Piano Man, isn’t funny but really shows off their strengths. I love their harmonies and the jazzy bits.

I hope you have a good weekend!  N and I are going out on date for dinner tomorrow and are going to see if we can try a new restaurant.  If it’s good I’ll tell you about it next week 🙂

TV Cabinet: Drawer Dovetails

I’m looking forward to woodworking class tonight.  Last week I started to cut the dovetails for the six drawers on the tv cabinet. It took me a little while to figure out which way the boards go in the jig but by the end of class I had it down. Cutting the dovetails was really fun.  I got 2 drawers done last week and have 4 left to go.  I’m excited to finish the dovetails for the other drawers tonight and then work on finalizing what my drawer fronts are going to look like.

Drawer Sides
Drawer sides after having a groove for the drawer bottom routed out. Dovetails are next!
Marking drawer to be routed
Lining up the joints and marking them to ensure they get routed in the correct order and match up.
All lined up and ready to be routed
All lined up and ready to be routed.
Routing the dovetail
Routing the dovetail.  It takes a few passes but it’s easy to follow the guide.
Routed Dovetail
The finished dovetail as it was cut
Drawer Dovetail
A finished dovetail fitting as it should, yay 🙂

It’s what’s for dinner

As my kids have grown older cooking dinner has become a lot more enjoyable.  E and Mimi are old enough to either help with the simple parts or stay out of my hair which are both good options 😉

Another thing that makes dinner easier is that the kids are both fairly adventurous eaters, especially E.  I try (sometimes more successfully than others) to stick to the general principles of the Satter method and the kids get the same food that N and I eat.  If we’re having something I’m really not sure they’ll eat I’ll put some fruit or toast on their plate but we don’t make them something separate.

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those cooks who can take a look at my pantry and whip up something on the spur of the moment; I need to plan in advance or else I feel overwhelmed and end up feeding the kids something frozen and then getting takeout for N and I after they’re in bed :/  N is great at cooking up a meal with what we have and we used to take turns with dinner (which I really loved), but he doesn’t get home until after 6pm so making dinner falls to me during the week since we want to eat together with the kids.

Anyway, this is what I have so far for this week:

Monday – Spicy Roasted Chicken Thighs* with brown rice and a veggie side–edamame? green salad? Not sure yet.

Tuesday – Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork  This is my favorite pulled pork recipe.  I make it whenever I see pork butt on sale and then freeze leftovers to make enchiladas.  This week we’ve having it on hamburger buns with a cabbage slaw.

Wednesday – Sweet and Tangy Sesame Noodles*  On paper this seems like something everyone will like but we’ll see.

Thursday – probably something in the slow cooker since we spend a couple of hours going to the doctor for E’s weekly milk OIT updose and by the time we get home after 5pm I’m wiped out from driving home in rush hour traffic.

Fridays – leftovers or takeout

* = First time making this recipe.

That’s all I have so far.  How about you?  Are you a planner, or do you like to play dinner by ear?

Woodworking: Modern TV Cabinet

I haven’t blogged about it yet, but last fall I started building a TV cabinet.  It’s my most ambitious project yet and I love working on it.

The cheap MDF TV stand we got at Target when we were newlyweds is nearing the end of its life (small children will do that) and I’m at the point in my life where if I’m going to get a new piece of furniture I want to really love it and for it to last–and if possible for it to be made out of solid walnut 😉

I’m a fan of mid-century modern design and so I wanted to design something that would have a lot of storage for our DVDs and still look good.  I went with a design that has a section in the middle for adjustable shelves for electronics and then 3 drawers on each sides for DVDs and games.

So these pictures are from last semester.  We’ve only had a few classes so far this semester and I’ve been cutting down wood for my drawers.  At tonight’s class I’m cutting the dovetails for the drawers.  I’m really excited!

Food Allergies and OIT

We found out about E’s food allergies when he was 9 months old.  We were going out to dinner with N’s grandpa and while I had only breastfed him up until then I brought along a bottle of formula to give E at the restaurant.  Within seconds of drinking it he threw up and started breaking out in hives.  He ended up hospitalized for the night.

Skin and blood tests later confirmed allergies for milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, and shrimp.  Since then we have strictly avoided all his allergens.

All of our family meals exclude those ingredients or are compartmentalized so E can have a safe option. (e.g. when I make enchiladas I make two pans and put dairy-free cheese on one for him.) It’s been an adjustment but very manageable.  Dealing with the outside world is harder.

When E goes to a birthday party I go along too and bring his own food and an egg-free, dairy-cupcake cupcake and his epipen.  When we fly, we board early and I carefully wipe down his seat and tray table.  (Last time I found a few almonds under his chair, yay :-/)  Going to a new restaurant causes anxiety and requires looking up their allergen info beforehand or calling to talk to the chef.  Traveling out of town takes a lot of planning.

At school he eats lunch separately from his friends at a food allergy table  with just one other kid.  He has a bag of safe treats in his classroom to substitute for when kids bring in things he’s allergic to (which happens a lot) but it bums him out to feel excluded.  So for every school party I volunteer to bring the snack so I can make sure it’s safe for everyone and to keep an eye out for him.  Yada, yada, yada…all of this is routine by now but it wears on E and our whole family.

But this last December E started oral immunotherapy (OIT) which is a treatment where you ingest a small dose of your allergen every day, gradually increasing the amount until you can eat it freely.  There was an article in the Wall Street Journal about it recently.

I first heard about OIT when a little girl in E’s class last year started treatment for milk.  I followed her progress via a Facebook group her mom set up and was amazed when she was eating ice cream and other dairy by the end of the year.  Since then another little boy in their class finished it for his peanut allergy and another friend of our started for milk.  So we made an appointment with Dr. Jones and I joined a few OIT Facebook groups to learn more.

We became convinced that this was the best chance E had of living a more normal life without the anxiety and exclusion that comes from food allergies. For the first time since we were told it was unlikely E would outgrow his food allergies I felt hopeful.

We were on the waiting list for about 8 months but since we started in December it has been going really well.  E started on a diluted milk solution but he is now dosing with whole milk (!)  We dose twice a day.  E is supposed to eat at least 15 minutes before a dose and keep his heart rate down for 2 hours after to minimize chances of a reaction.  During the school week he needs to be up with breakfast in his stomach by 6:30am so I can monitor him for a hour before he leaves for school, and also so it will be more than 2 hours until morning recess so he can run around.

E hasn’t had any side effects, like an upset stomach, that sometimes occur.  If things go according to schedule he’ll graduate from milk OIT in about 3 months.  Hope is a wonderful and welcome thing!

I could go on and on about OIT (as you can tell) but for today I’ll stop here.  If you’re interested in learning more, this Facebook group was helpful to me.  They aren’t unbiased and are definitely pro-OIT but they’ve collected a lot of info and research in a pinned post that I found helpful.

And feel free to ask me any questions 🙂