Thursday, May 28, 2015

catching up with some school visits: Chinese New Year Celebration!

So, while I was taking a hiatus from this blog, I was still traveling and visiting schools. There were so many amazing ones that I feel obligated to share about them, even though it is rather belated.

For example, all the way back in February, I celebrated the Lunar New Year like this:

First, Chinese Spring Greetings met me at the door:

And I did my thing with some cute students, seeing different age levels a time:

look how short my hair was! I haven't gone for a haircut since it was first cut because of the novel. You know how athletes sometimes have "playoff beards?" I have finish-the-novel hair. 

But after I finished, ALL the students started to stream in--each holding special projects they had done inspired by my books:

I thought this was especially clever--a dragon noisemaker!
 Students made dragons out of paper cups and then taped streamers to one end and cut a hole in the other. When they shouted in the hole of the cup, the streamer flew out.

Chinese rattle drums!
paper lanterns

And why were the all there? Why to see the dragon, of course:

each student made their part of the dragon!

It was an awesome dragon parade!


And a great way to start the Lunar New Year!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

catching up with the garden

We started the garden so early this spring that Rain Dragon was still bundled up when we planted the seeds:

So, for what seemed a long time, we seemed to have more of a windspinner garden than anything else:

But, finally, things began to sprout:

And now, they are starting to grow:

Monday, May 25, 2015

strawberry ducks

Hello all! Since I am awaiting revision comments, I have returned to the blog! Yay! Of course, I might have to disappear again once I start revising, but in the meantime...let me tell you about strawberry ducks:

I made these for Rain Dragon's pre-school birthday celebration. The school discourages excess sweets, so these seems like a good way to make the day special. They are super easy to make as well as super cute! All  you need are:

a melon ball spoon
a couple apples
lemon juice
tiny round sprinkles
heart shapes sprinkles (I couldn't find any so I used star shaped ones and had to make them triangular)

and this video:

They called them "Strawberry men" but Rain Dragon insisted that our were ducks. 

They used chocolate for the eyes, but I used sprinkles because I was too lazy to melt chocolate, etc. If I were to do it again, I'd use tweezers to put in the sprinkle eyes because my damp hands made some of the color of the sprinkles run. And I cut off the bottoms to make sure they all sat up, too. So the ones in the video are much cuter!

but mine are still cute, though, right?

But, they were eaten all up so I guess Rain Dragon and her friend didn't mind!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

writing retreat

Hello! Remember me?

I am relieved to say that the first draft of my novel is now with my editor! Yes, the first step in the long publishing process has begun, but "Every journey must begin with a first step," is how the Chinese proverb goes, right?

But getting to that first step was pretty hard! After missing, um, three years of deadlines I was finally determined to make this last one. However, as I was nearing the end,  I needed huge, extended chunks of uninterrupted time and that is something I can't get at home, so I was starting to feel a bit desperate.

And that is where my good friend and fellow author Libby Koponen stepped in. Offering me her spare room in her place by the sea (very apropos for my book),  we created our own two-person writing retreat.

the view from my borrowed writing desk!

Libby was a fabulous hostess (as she always is):

Fresh tea every couple of hours and a pajama dress code!

And we both got a lot of writing done! I worked from the wee hours of the morning to the wee hours at night--I slept less than when Rain Dragon was a baby! But, (as you know, but I must repeat it because I am a bit disbelieving) I finished my first draft!

I watched the sun rise!
It went so well that we are talking about running real writing retreats, offering it to other authors besides ourselves. I think it would be great, don't you?

But in the meantime, I am just thankful that I had this one!

two writers in our work uniforms!

Monday, May 11, 2015

and this is three!

So, the novel took a back seat this weekend so that we could decorate the yard like this:

Because it was Rain Dragon's birthday!

We had another birthday red hunt, this time making sure all the eggs were red so that the connection to the Chinese tradition was a little more direct (in Chinese tradition, red eggs are used to celebrate a child's birthday--the red egg hunt is our own personal take one it!). Even so, it was not very traditional--but the Rain Dragon's friends didn't seem to mind.

The hardest part was holding back the crowd:

On your mark, get set, GO!

The yard was in much better shape this year and the weather was cooperative, so I think it  was a successful hunt!

at least it was for Rain Dragon:

Also, this year instead of trying to do the cake last minute, we assembled it with pre-made fondant decorations and turned everyone's mouth's blue:

Rain Dragon loves planets and ducks!

which might have been what Rain Dragon wished for:


Happy 3rd Birthday, Rain Dragon!