Traveling From Home – China

This week our family “traveled” to China.  Our week was loaded with other activities as well (including the Geography Fair and presenting Ethiopia to the attendees) so we didn’t have a chance to look at any potential shows on the Travel Channel.  But, we did find out a lot of other information and enjoyed great food.

FOOD:

General Tso's Chicken as served at the Shangha...
General Tso's Chicken as served at the Shanghai Dumpling King in San Francisco, California, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I made Chinese food one night and we got some take-out the other night.  However, I am pretty sure that what we ate was “Americanized” Chinese food and not necessarily authentic to China.  Over the two nights we enjoyed sesame pineapple chicken with peppers and noodles, chicken broccoli, shrimp with Chinese vegetables, noodles with vegetables, pineapple chicken, hot and sour soup, shrimp rolls and, of course, rice.  (Any time we have takeout we like a variety, but there’s so much food that we always have leftovers.  We usually also have lots of rice left over and that makes great fried rice for another meal.)  I didn’t think in advance to get pictures when I cooked because everything was so hectic.

I found some recipe websites that you may also enjoy.  If you want to learn how to make your own Chinese food, check these sites out.

Eating China is a site that gives a lot of recipes, some that you won’t find in an average take out menu.  I’m going to have to try some of these and see how they turn out.  A number of them sound really good.

Chinese Rcipes gives several interesting recipes.  Have you ever tried Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs or Crisp Chinese pork?

The Chinese section of World Recipes gives recipes like Moo Goo Gai Pan, Duck Sauce, General Tso’s Chicken, and Kung Pao Chicken.

Try some of these recipes out and see what you think.  If you are from China or know authentic Chinese food, I would appreciate your comments on whether these recipes are an authentic representation of Chinese food.

GAMES:  

We found a fun puzzle place where you can put together all of the provinces of China.  Check it out at Your Child Learns – China Puzzle.

OTHER INFORMATION:

There is so much we learned and so little space on a blog entry.  But, I wanted to include a few of the many things that we learned.  Did you know that there are close to 500 indigenous, distinct ethnic groups in China, but that only 55 “nationalities” are officially recognized for administrative purposes?  (See Operation World 7th edition pp 214 – 251.)

Scholastic, News for Kids by Kids, has an article about a particular school in China to give us all an idea of what it is like to go to school there.  Whether this represents most or all schools, I am not sure.  But, our little guy found it to be interesting information.

China.org writess about the festivals the Chinese celebrate during the year.

There is so much to learn about China that it is impossible to do more than cover some highlights in a week’s time.  But, the point is to get our children to learn more about other parts of the world and this is a start.

It would so be interesting to be able to take the whole family and actually see China for ourselves and experience, in a very small way, what it is like to live in China.

I welcome any comments about the Chinese culture, authentic food, and any other subject from any reader.  Join in on the conversation.

[For other “Traveling From Home” blog entries, select either the “Homeschooling” or “General” Categories from my Categories menu.]

Geography Fair

Map of First World Nations

Our local Home School Association hosted a Geography Fair tonight.  Kids from all over the county participated, presenting a number of different countries around the world.  I was really proud of all of the kids.  They clearly worked hard on their presentations.

My little guy and I put a presentation together on Ethiopia.  Since this is our first Geography Fair we decided to do something that wasn’t so difficult…. Ethiopia.  (I lived in Ethiopia and had lots of pictures, clothing, knick knacks, carved animals, spices and other things to share with the group so we set all of that up as a presentation at our table along with a presentation board filled with photos.)

Other kids (and/or their parents) had food to share from the countries that they presented.  It was clear that, like me, some of the parents had been to those countries and had brought back various knick knacks to share.

Regardless of whether you’re home schooling or not, you can improve your children’s exposure to the world by exploring the world from home in various ways.

  • Travel together on the Travel Channel.  (Get your TV Guide and plan what shows you want your kids to see and what countries you want to learn more about.)
  • Do what we’re doing and look up information about a different country every week, including cooking recipes that are representative of what they eat in those cultures.
  • If your kids are into fashion, look online to see how the people in these other cultures dress.
  • Have your kids do a project… some kind of report on a country of their choice (with the topic of their choice – such as what school is like over there or what kind of government they have or what kids like to play, etc.) and have a reward for all of their hard work.
  • If you live in or near a location with all kinds of ethnic restaurants and you’d rather not try to cook these foods yourself,  go there and try differnt kinds of foods from around the world.  (Some of my favorite are Moroccan, Greek, Ethiopian, Indian and Thai.  Give your kids the opportunity to find out what they like and broaden their pallets at the same time.)

It was really fun to see how much these kids in the Geography Fair had learned and what they did to present their chosen countries.  It was also fun to see all of the families involved.

Great job, Kids!!!

Headaches Are A Pain In The Head!

Headache
Headache (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

I am sitting here with a throbbing headache that has gotten worse throughout the day.  I’ve tried to walk, sit, lay down to rest, and even sleep.  I did doze off, but woke up with a worse headache.  Nothing seems to be working today.  So, the only thing I can think of is to just get on with it and get things done that need to be done.  I may work more slowly, but laying around just isn’t going to cut it with this headache and I’ve wasted enough time.  I still have work to complete before tomorrow… and tomorrow we’ll be going from morning until night.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

This is humorous, but also true.  So, all you morning people… listen up.  Did you know that there is a verse about waking people up in the morning with a loud voice?  I am NOT a morning person.  When I was in college I put this verse on a beautifully decorated paper and posted it on my dorm room door.  (I was trying to NICELY say that I’m not a morning person so don’t be loud.)  All of the monring people thought it was cute and knocked on my door EARLY in the morning to tell me how cute it was… sigh.  I like the good old King James version for this verse.

Proverbs 27:14
He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.

Isn’t that a great verse?

I was reading in Ephesians tonight and wanted to share another verse with you.  I’ll use the King James version again because I truly like how it is worded.

Ephesians 3:20
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”

I really like this verse.  It is giving honor to him (God) who “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all the we ask for think.”  Think about that.  God is able to work in our lives in ways far greater than we can imagine.  He is able to work through us in ways that we can’t even imagine asking.  My husband and I have experienced that in many ways in our lives.  When we prayed, God answered beyond our expectations and in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

But, that isn’t all.  He can work through us in ways we can’t imagine, “according to the power that worketh in us.”  And what is that power?  God.  We are not God as many people wish to believe.  (They say god is in everything.  We are god, we are in god, god is in us, god is us.)  No, it is literally the power of God (the Holy Spirit) that is at work in us.  He works in us and He works through us to be a blessing to others and to be a witness for Christ so that others will be drawn to Him and His love.

So, whether I have headaches or not, whether I’m in pain or not, my prayer is that God will work in me (changing me daily to be more and more the woman He has designed me to be) and work through me (to be a blessing to my family and those He brings into my life and to be a witness for Him).

Think about Ephesians 3:20 and how God can work in you and through you!  You’ll be amazed at the wonderful changes in your life if you truly seek Him.

Have a blessed night.

Bobbing Along

Glass of water sitting on a coaster.
Glass of water sitting on a coaster. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am already far behind “schedule” on my weight loss.  For the past couple of weeks my weight has been bobbing up and down, up and down.  By now I should have lost 18 pounds.  Suffice it to say I haven’t.

I will lose this weight.  It’s important to me to be there and be healthy for my kids and husband.  So… what do I do now?  I think that a part of my problem is that I’m busy doing for other people and don’t do for me.  I find that the day has gone by and before I know it, I didn’t get my walk or my exercise into my schedule.  I realized that I’m also not drinking enough water.

I read a blog by Melanio Reyes yesterday that just might help me and maybe it will help you also.   It seems simple and maybe even a little silly.  But, I can see how it works.  I don’t like breaking the chain, either.  Check it out.  It might be a hint that is helpful for you.

http://codecheese.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/dont-break-the-chain/

Two simple goals for this week:

1. A minimum of 30 minutes of exercise every day.
2. A minimum of 8 glasses of water every day.

 Have a blessed week!  Make sure you move and drink your water.

Does Anger Control You? Part 2

Emotions associated with anger
Emotions associated with anger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ANGER

Some of us come from a long ancestral line of people with tempers, some of us just have tempers ourselves (without any ancestors we can blame), some of us are going through temporary circumstances that are difficult to handle and tempers flare, and some of us are an easy-going, peaceful kind of people. How I wish the world was filled with easy-going, peaceful people. (My husband is one of them and I appreciate that so much about him.)

Before going any further, for the purposes of this article I want to define my own perspective of the difference between reactions and responses. (This is not necessarily an “English dictionary”, “scientific” or “psychological” definition, but rather a clarification of semantics as I use them.  “I need to learn to respond rather than react.”)

Reaction: an instinctive, immediate attitude and behavior that comes out as a result of one’s circumstances, what another person has just said or written, or how someone has behaved that indicate one’s feelings and emotional attitude.

Response: a thought-through, deliberately chosen reply or behavior that comes from self-control and a sense of personal responsibility for one’s own actions, attitudes and behaviors.

Psalm 37:8 “Stop being angry.  Turn from your rage.  Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm.” (NLT)

On March 21st I wrote part 1 of this series.  The verse above is apropos for each of those situations.  Each of those people chose anger and rage and what happened?  It led to harm.  Our choices impact not only ourselves, but those around us.  Psalm 37:7 talks about people deliberately doing harm to you and then Psalm 37:8 says that you should stop being angry in response to those who hurt you because it (your anger and rage) only leads to harm.

But, they were unkind to me!  He was beating me up!  He abused me!  She broke my trust!  They were telling lies about me.  She’s always nasty toward me.  Alright… there is sin in this world and people who are control by their sinful natures.  There are people who make choices to do harmful things to us.  Does that mean that we need to lose all of our own self-control?  What does God say about that?

Proverbs 19:11  “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

There are so many ways in which anger can control us or, (let’s be real), how we allow it to control us. And unless we have a deliberate way of controlling our reactions and thinking through appropriate responses, we cannot have freedom from anger.

Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

There’s nothing wrong with emotions, themselves.  They are neither negative nor positive (as we try to label them).  They simply exist.  We all feel emotions and that’s natural.  It is what we do with those emotions that can become negative or positive.  Anger is one of those emotions.  (Click on the picture above to enlarge it and see all of the things that can come along with anger.  It’s an eye-opening picture.)  If we hang on to that anger and mull over it, dwell on it, and feed on it, it can become something uncontrollable.  It’s important to deal with it right away.  Whether you exacerbate a situation or calm it down is your choice.  There’s a great deal of wisdom in the Bible in regard to anger and our choices.  We can choose to just let it loose and not control it or we can choose to have self-control.  And I believe that God expects us to do our part and develop self-control.

Ephesians 4:31 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form on malice.” (NIV)

With self-control, we are to get rid of the life of anger and angry responses.  God doesn’t say, “Let me take it from you.”  No.  He tells us to do our part.  “Get rid of it.”  We need to throw it off.  This is the “bad habit” we need to get rid of, and in it’s place…

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” (NIV)

Wow.  This is the complete opposite of anger.  And it says a lot more than just these words.  In order to do these things, we have to give up holding on to grudges, overlook the faults of others, and choose to be caring when someone is unkind to us.  The author of Colossians also talks about this.

Colossians 3:8 “But, now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these:  anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk from your mouth.”

So, I talk to someone else about the woman who did something against me according to my perspective.  Do you know that God calls that?  Slander.  Or, I’m angry enough to swear, take the Lord’s name in vain, or say how I REALLY feel about someone and how they’ve behaved in an extremely unkind way.  No… God calls that obscene talk.  Get rid of it.  If you have a problem between you and someone else, go make it right with them.  Don’t gossip about that person and tell everyone he’s a rat.

Self-control is more than just controlling your anger.  It is controlling yourself in every way… controlling your tongue and how you talk about people, controlling your attitude and how you choose to feel about people, controlling your behaviors and how you treat people and controlling your feelings and whether you allow them to fester in your mind or whether you deal with them in an appropriate manner.  Again, feelings are neutral.  It’s what you choose to do with them that turns into something positive or negative.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “anger is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.”  But, it can be far more than that.  Uncontrolled, it is a lifestyle of reaction to little things that are out of your control with an angry attitude and reaction (yelling, saying something unkind to someone, hitting, throwing things, getting in someone’s face, etc.).  If it becomes a lifestyle, it’s no longer just about someone who you feel has deliberately done you wrong.  It flows out into every area of life and it’s flowing out of you.  Take responsibility for yourself.

Proverbs 15:1  “A soft answer turns away wrath.  But harsh words stir up anger.”

Reactions are learned, as are responses.  Think of them as habits.  It’s possible to unlearn bad habits and learn good habits to replace them.  If you’re someone who “lets” anger control you, my first suggestion is to find out what the foundational problem is and deal with that.  But, there’s a second part to that.  You must choose to have self-control.  OK… so you’re angry… choose not to react in that moment.  Yes, it is possible.   Take one step at a time and chose, in that very moment, to say nothing and do nothing.  Or better yet, choose a soft answer to diffuse the situation.  Every time you do that, it is one more step toward self-control.

Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.”  (NIV)

The Bible is full of verses that talk about anger, what God thinks about it, and how we need to deal with it.

I still have much to say on the topic.  Come back and read Part 3 to learn a little more about my own personal experiences in my battle with anger.

Traveling from Home – Introduction

As of this week, we have decided to add an activity to Homeschool and our family experience.  We will be learning and eating our way around the world.

I think it’s important for people to know about countries and cultures other than their own, so we’ve decided to broaden our horizons.  Since we are homeschooling, every single week our sons will be given the responsibility of picking out a country from around the globe for the following week.  (That will give me time to look up recipes and see if I need to find special spices, etc.)

The week we study that country we’ll open up our “Operation World” book and learn about how to pray for the people in that country.  We’ll get on the internet and look up interesting things about that country and its culture(s).  We’ll visit the library and see if we can find stories about the people of that country.  We’ll see if the travel channel has any shows about that location.  And, finally, we will look up recipes and each week make food that will give us a sense of what the people in that culture may eat.   I’ll try to remember to take pictures for you all!

Every member of our family will participate and learn together. Each week, I’ll write and let you know about our “travels” around the world and our kids’ responses to the food and the things that they learn.

Pad thai (ผัดไทย), served in Bangkok.
Pad thai (ผัดไทย), served in Bangkok. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I chose the location because it was simple to buy the food from the grocery store.  (We’re visiting Thailand and tonight we had Pad Thai for dinner.  The boys thought it was very good.)  However, starting next week, the kids will get to choose where we “travel”.

Care to join us and do something similar in your home?  We’d enjoy hearing about it.

Please share this and tell everyone you know.  We would love to have people come to our blog to make comments and contribute suggestions and ideas, places to “travel”, foods to try, tidbits of information on different cultures.  If you’re from a culture other than North America or have visited places around the world and have a favorite cuisine or country, we’d love to hear real life information about your culture or the culture you visited!   I’ll be posting our “travel” blog every Friday starting next week.

Does Anger Control You? Part 1

Four Stories About Angry People

Angry woman.
Angry woman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The names have been changed to protect the identity of the people in these stories.

Allanna

Allanna was always angry at everything.  She was a bitter person whose first response was to lash out in anger.  I haven’t walked in her shoes so I can’t even begin to understand how or where that anger started.  Perhaps something terrible happened in her childhood and the anger took hold of her and simply became a life-style.  I don’t know.  All I experienced was the end-result.  Everyone was an annoyance to her unless they agreed with her or did exactly as she said.

She was in her 40’s and, although she attempted to control her circumstances and everyone around her, she didn’t have self-control.  All of the women in the office were afraid to counter anything she said.  She was vicious and swift in retribution to anyone who dared cross her (even by simply verbalizing that they did not agree with her).  Evidently, they were also afraid to let HR know about the situation.  When someone finally did, there was a big investigation and she received a slap on the wrist.  That told everyone that countering her wouldn’t help.  Jana stood up to her and, while trying to be kind and speak calmly, didn’t allow Allanna to walk on her or intimidate her.  The fact that she couldn’t get a rise out of Janna irritated Allanna.

One time she even got in Janna’s face (literally a few inches away) and, in anger because Janna had said that something Allanna had planned for Janna’s office (without communicating with her) would not be happening.  (She even had the office movers there ready to get to work when Janna came in.)  Allanna was so angry at that calm statement that spittle was literally flying from her mouth as she spoke to Janna.  “This is my project and you will not counter me in any way.  I will do as I please with your office or anyone else’s….”   (Her speech went on with raised voice and an extremely angry tone and it got the attention of everyone within hearing distance.)  Janna had noticed before that the angrier Allanna would get, the calmer and more self-controlled Janna became.  Because Allanna was leaning into her, Janna leaned forward slightly toward her (which caused Allanna to back up) and calmly said, “You need to try to calm down before you give yourself a heart attack.  As I said before, this is my office and what you are planning for it will not be happening.  Now please sit down and calm down before you cause a physical problem for yourself.  This kind of anger only does harm to you, not to me.”  Allanna did back off and sat down.  She did not do what she wanted to do with Janna’s office.  But, from that point on in her mind Janna was her mortal enemy because she had stood up to her.

Janna did tell her that her anger was only causing problems for her, but that’s not true.  It didn’t affect Janna because she didn’t allow it to affect her, but it was intimidating a whole lot of people.

Mandy

Mandy had been married for a very long time.  She was quite spoiled as a child.  As an adult, she was a very angry woman who blamed everyone else for her own choices and her own life.  She would fly off the handle at a moment’s notice and no one knew what would make her angry.  She blamed her husband for ruining her life, for not being good enough for her, for not making enough money, for burdening her with a special needs child.  On and on the blame went.  She blamed her child for ruining her life and tying her down.  The marriage was in trouble for a long time.  When they finally got divorced and he married again, all of her venom turned to his new wife.  His new wife was now to blame for all of her troubles and woes and for all that had gone on even though he and his wife hadn’t even known each other during the turmoil of that previous marriage.  Even to this day Mandy has to find others to blame for all of the consequences of her choices and she has a serious temper issue.

Jennifer

How about a regular, every day situation?  Perhaps this is you?  Jennifer is just simply exhausted.  She snaps at her kids.  She snaps at her husband.  Every little situation gets blown out of proportion.  She’s just fine when dealing with other people outside the family (so she can control herself), but when she gets home she gets frustrated with everything.  She often snaps out in anger.   She hears herself snapping at her kids or husband and wants to stop, but the words keep coming.  That frustrates her as well.

Andrew

Andrew learned how to lash out in anger when he was just a child.  This is how his mother modeled anger management.  Life was difficult.  His mother loved him and his siblings, but often didn’t know how to handle everything that was coming her way.  She allowed her anger to get way out of control way too often.

As Andrew grew up, he realized that he could get away with it.  If he “acted out” people would skuttle around and fix things for him.  So, in this area, he never grew up.  He got married and his wife enabled the situation by skuttling around and fixing things for him as well.  As time went by, his anger got the best of him and he ended up abusing his wife verbally, emotionally, and physically.  Because his wife was embarrassed at first to let anyone know he was treating her like this, she didn’t say anything and he got away with it.  The abuse became more and more severe.

He would feel rage about the simplest things.  We’re talking about things like the passenger door on her car that wouldn’t unlock like the other doors and had to be manually unlocked.  He had the keys so when she asked him to try to unlock it again because she couldn’t open the door that enraged him.  She got into the car and he punched her in the side of the face.  During the last year of their marriage there were three times when he threatened her life and she thought she’d be leaving the house on a gurney on the way to the morgue.

She ended up moving as far away from him as she could and they divorced.  To this day he doesn’t think his anger is an issue.  “Everyone does it.”

________________

These are sad stories.  The story of Jennifer is real to a lot of us.  How can these people get past these angry lifestyles?  Read “Does Anger Control You? Part 2” for more.