Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Frozen Lake?

When we arrived in the woods six months ago, the first thing we did was to ask our neighbours about the weather in winter. The first they told us was about the lake, assuming that we already knew about the harsh winters here ... what about the lake? It freezes in winter! Unbelievable! 

Today is another winter day ... on new year's eve!
Although the temperature is 17C below zero, it is sunny.
What a blessing! I always have this urge to get out of the house on sunny days, despite the bitter cold .. as long as the wind is not too strong.
So off we go ... to see the frozen lake!!

It looks like a big field covered with snow, yah?
It looks like a big field, but it is a lake! 
It is the frozen lake, covered with snow, with a thick layer of ice below the snow. Can you spot the guys who are fishing?

Is it really safe to walk so far out to fish, on a frozen lake?
I have no answer to that. I think, all it takes is just one person to decide that the frozen lake is safe to walk on, while the rest sees and follows. 
I am really not sure.

We get plenty of sunshine, plus rain, the few days after christmas.
The many inches of snow dump on us before christmas has melted, causing many areas to flood. Although we see ice and snow on the days during those few days, we are still not sure if it is safe to walk on. Not when you have two active kids in tow. 

So daddy has to walk first, following the footsteps of those who are fishing on the frozen lake. The little ones follow him after. Just a short distance. 

The elder boy asked ... why is the lake frozen? How can the people fish when the lake is frozen? How about the fish? Will they be frozen too? 

How I wish I have Ms Frizzle and the Magic School Bus with me .... 

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Have a Blessed Christmas!

It's our very first "White Christmas", and we are enjoying it.
To our family and friends .... Here's wishing all a Blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Will I see Santa tonight?

It's Christmas eve.
Mama says that we have survived four winter storms so far, all occurring within ten days. Snow is being dumped in the woods big time ... we are going to have a "White Christmas" in the woods! 

Hmm ... There are so many houses and chimneys here. I wonder if I will be able to spot Santa, if I look really hard tonight? But I have not been a good boy lately, making my Papa and Mama angry. I remember the song ... HE's making a list and checking it twice ... Hmmm .... Mama asked me if I had been naughty or nice? I had been .... naughty and nice!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thank you!

Received a parcel from my mom on Friday.
She packed some coffee, which I needed to keep myself "alive", and Christmas presents for the kids! They each received a christmas hat, and a Nintendo Mario Game! They are Mario-fans! The games were from my cousins, their Ah-Yi. They had been looking forward to the parcel, and had been asking me about the hats and Nintendo Games which they would be receiving. Thank you Ma and Pa, and my dear cousins!

My dear old friend, Jean, happened to send the kids christmas hats too! 
Thank you Jean! The kids loved the hats! 
They were the happiest kids ... two sets of christmas hats! 
They wore their hats when they played with each other, and when they had their snacks/meals. They wore the hats the whole day! 

Darling son's classmate, Douglas, brought over some cookies for us this afternoon. Darling son was happily eating the cookies, as you can in the first photograph in the above collage. The cookies were made by his mom. The boy was all covered up, from head to toe, and was shivering when he handed us the cookies. The wind was blowing very fiercely, and the temperature was like 20C below zero! We were so touched! Thank you Janice and Douglas, for the yummy cookies!

Hubby's classmate, who happened to stay a block away from ours, invited us over to his house this evening for a Christmas gathering with another neighbour. 

We enjoyed the singing by Mary, our 4-year old neighbour, and thank you Emily, for telling us such a nice story about Jesus Christ. 

Thank you Steve and Mandy, for inviting us. You guys are really talented, playing the piano and flute. The kids enjoyed decorating the cookies .. and eating the decorations while decorating. Can you spot the "six-eyes" monster which darling son KW created? Darling son YW ate the three cookies he decorated before we were headed home.

These little gestures from our family and friends really warmed my heart.
It makes our first "White Christmas" in the woods very meaningful .... 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wintry Mess!

Think winter, you think of snow. Only snow. That's not true.
We get a wintry mix/mess of snow, ice sleet, and rain.
A brutal blast of bitter cold arctic air usually follows, after a winter storm.

At times, you get abundant sunshine after the winter storm. The snow melts. Then comes a messy mix of rain and ice sleet, with the brutal cold arctic air trailing behind. The snow that melts has now turned into ice.
Ice on the paths, icicles on the roofs, ice on the roads.  Grass peek at you from beneath a thick slab of ice, which is in turn covered by an inch of snow. 

How many times have I slipped and fall when walking darling son to school? How many times have darling sons slipped and fell while walking home from school? Countless times.

Just the other day, we took the car to send darling son to school.
A left turn out of the housing area onto the main road and our car went over an icy area and turned almost 180 degrees! 
Luckily there was no other cars except for a school bus which was a good distance behind us!

I don't mind the snow and the cold.
I dislike the ice!

P.S : In case you are wondering why a left turn and not a right turn? The road directions are completely the opposite from back home! 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Run, run, as fast as you can!

Run, run, as fast as you can,
you can't catch ME, I'm the Gingerbread Man!
Run, run, as fast as you can,
you can't catch HIM, he's the Gingerbread Man!

Darling sons loved the Gingerbread Man. They would ask me to read them the story of the Gingerbread Man/Boy/Baby.
They would sing, non-stop, the song of the Gingerbread Man.
They would bug me to bake them "Gingerbread Man" cookies.
"Can I have my gingerbread man? Where is my gingerbread man, Mom?"
Gosh, all I think of all day is ... Gingerbread Man.

Hence, as soon as my new cutters arrived, I quickly prepared the dough for sugar cookie, with plans to use the cutters for the dough. The dough had been sitting in my fridge for a day already.

Since the kids had no school today, due to the winter storm, it was a good time to bake the cookies! I rolled the dough, cut the dough, baked the cookies, and decorated the first batch with M&Ms and colourful sprinkles, and frosted them using icing sugar mixed with a little milk.

Darling son KW was interested in frosting too.
He did a good job in frosting! I am impressed.
They both had a great time eating the cookies!

What an eventful "winter-storm" day!

  • School was closed.
  • Baked brownies using new silicon moulds in morning.
  • Baked cookies using new holiday cookie cutters.
  • Frosted the brownies and cookies.
  • Shovelled piles and piles of snow ... back-breaking!
  • Walking through knee-depth snow
  • Sledding!
  • Not forgetting the usual tasks of cooking and washing up.

I'm EXHAUSTED ... but I had FUN!

Spiders, Webs, and Trees!

Darling sons have been bugging me to bake them "Gingerbread Man" cookies for days. But I don't have any gingerbread man cookie cutters.
Neither can I find any at the neighbourhood supermarket. Sigh.

I went online last weekend, hoping to find some nice holiday cutters.
I must have been mad that day ... not only did I shop for holiday cookie cutters, I ended up buying silicon baking moulds! One with six christmas trees, and another with spiders and spider webs. My purchases arrived yesterday. Perfect timing!

There was no school today, due to a winter storm.
So early in the morning, I baked brownies, using my new silicon baking moulds! I had fun frosting!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Gingerbread House!

I love the story of the Gingerbread Man.
I read the story of the Gingerbread Baby too!
How I wish I could made a Gingerbread House, just like Matti in the story!

My teacher told us that we would be making a Gingerbread House with our reading buddies! My very own Gingerbread House! I was so excited!

I carried the House back home all the way from school.
I was very careful, as the road was slippery and there was ice everywhere on the paths and roads. My mama was very proud of me =)
She told me and Didi that we could make one at home too! 
Yeah! I am looking foward to it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Student of the Week

Darling son's school has this special program called "Student of the Week".

As the 'Student of the Week", you and your family are welcomed to go to class any time during that week, to share your country's culture, songs and dance, crafts, experiments, food, anything ... with the class. A mom from Korea taught the kids how to make rice balls. Yummy. Another family shared growing-up photographs of the student with the class. Interesting. 

We are wondering what we should do since Darling son is the student of the week and we are going to his school tomorrow? 

Darling son is very interested in the solar system. All thanks to the Magic School Bus! He can remember the order of the planets and is able to write the names of the planets without referring to the book. Why not share what he knows with his friends? Darling son is keen to share. For us, it is a good opportunity for him to learn how to speak up to a crowd. We have to go through with him what to say, not for him to memorise his lines, but to ensure he doesn't say so much that we run out of time! 

It is never too early to start a child on any topic.
As long as the child is interested, he will learn.
And he will have fun learning, and enjoy the process as he learns.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's for dinner tonight, Mom?

The weather is getting colder each day.
Mom is really tired and feeling cold, and doesn't like her hands to get wet.
So she whipped up this "short-cut" dish for dinner =).

Angel's hair with baked soy chicken wings, accompanied by pre-cut broccoli salad. Minimum washing. Mom can sit and rest while the wings baked in the oven.

Only thing that Mom disliked about this dish ... it gets cold real fast ... a cold dish for a cold winter night? Oh well, something different for a change.

Sauce for Angel's Hair : For 4 persons
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
4 tablespoons Low Sodium Kikkoman Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil

  • Cook pasta according to packet's instructions.
  • Wash in cold water and set aside for use later.
  • Marinate chicken wings with soy sauce: 4 tbsp for 10 wings (2 section).
  • Baked wings in oven at 400F for about 30 mins to 45 mins.
  • Drizzle oil from baking wings onto broccoli salad. Mix well.
  • Scoop angel's hair onto plate.
  • Arrange a handful of broccoli salad on top of pasta.
  • Drizzle sauce over broccoli salad and Angel's Hair.
  • Wings at the side of the meal.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Who's this mysterious boy?

Who's this mysterious boy?

We see many of these 'mysterious' boys as we walk to school every morning. But on this particular morning, not only the boys have their faces covered, the adults too! 

A severe weather warning, from, was issued last night: 

Dangerous wind chill in effect till noon on Monday. Single digit temperature .. And gusty west wind .. Will combine to produce wind chills as low as 16F to 28F below zero ......

Indeed, bitter cold wind blew as we made our way to school this morning. As the children walked on the icy path, rosy cheeks peeked out from behind their scarves. My cheeks hurt as I made my way home. Gusty wind blew as water vapor condensed and turned into a tiny piece of ice on my eye lid as I breathed hard through the scarf covering my cheeks and nose. 

In the warning issued, we were advised to use hats and gloves. To keep ourselves warm. Frost bites can occur ten to fifteen minutes with this dangerous wind chill. 

And the temperature this morning?

17C under zero, sunny and windy.
Realfeel of 25C under zero. 


Friday, December 12, 2008

A Cold but Sunny Winter Day

I look out of the window. The sky is a lovely shade of blue.
It is a bright and sunny day.

Ignoring the pile of snow outside, the lovely bright sunshine makes it feel like it is summer. But it's winter now. A sunny winter day. Is it cold?

If looks can be deceiving, so can the weather!
Take a look at the temperature rating on my laptop ... it says ... -13 Celsius! 
It's freezing cold outside! So looks can be deceiving, even when we talk about the weather! 

But I'm not complaining. 
I missed the sun back home.
I get depressed when the sky is gloomy. 
Take a look at the first photograph in the collage and you will know what I mean by gloomy grey sky. The sunny weather sets my mood for the day. I feel energetic and alert. Gloomy and cold? Sunny and cold? 
I choose the latter anytime.

The kids are still excited about the snow, even though it has been a while since it has started snowing. Here's what they love doing on a sunny cold day: Shovel the snow outside the house, on the path, go sledding, and make snow balls! 

What do they do when they are home then?
Homework? This word has been buried under the many inches of snow for weeks. Their favorite home-word for now ... LEGO!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fun in the snow!

What do you do on a day when school is closed due to a snow storm?
Homework? Study?
No, you go sledding!!!

The kids just loved it! If not for the strong wind, more snow, and the biting cold on the face, we would have sled longer! The other two OLD kids (the papa and mama) had fun sledding too!

Winter Storm and School, Dec 9 2008 :
The Winter Weather Center reports that as much as 6 inches will pile up from south-central Wisconsin into northern Michigan before tapering off early on Wednesday. Snow in the Upper Midwest and rain in the Southeast will sandwich a messy mix of sleet, freezing rain and rain in parts of Central Plains and Midwest. This mix of wintry precipitation today could create hazardous winter driving conditions as well as the possibility of flight delays at Midwest airports. 

I knew there would be a snowstorm from Monday night, through Tuesday. 
I was wondering how we were going to walk to school on Tuesday morning. 

I received email warning advisory from Accuweather too. 
I didn't expect the snow to pile up so much.
I didn't expect the visibility to be reduced so much.
I didn't expect school to be closed!

A call to the school office confirmed it all. 
"All schools in Madison are closed today."

The kids were happy. 
They wanted to go sledding. 
They watched as Mr. Big Brush came to plough the roads and walkways.
But this time round, instead of a big brush, he had a big shovel attached! 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mr. Big Brush!

When it snows through the night, a thick layer of snow will form on the path the next morning, making it difficult to walk. The path needs to be cleared of snow. Who is going to shovel the snow? 

This is the job for ... Mr Big Brush!

The kids just love watching him clear the path!
They will run to the window to watch, whenever they hear him coming.
They love the way the snow 'splashed' onto our window as the brush clears the snow.

See you tomorrow morning, Mr Big Brush!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Warm Sweet Drink in Winter

With the weather getting colder each day, it is really nice to have a warm drink when we get home. A warm before a meal, a warm drink between meals, or a warm drink after a meal. 

So I put together some dried figs, some dried longans and water.
Soak the dried figs and longans in warm water for 20 minutes.
Bring the pot of water with figs and longans to a boil.
Reduce heat and cook another 30 minutes, or till the ingredients softened.

Done! Simple and easy to prepare.
Pour the extra into a bottle and keep in the fridge. 
Need a drink? 
Pour into a cup and warm it up using the microwave!

Alberta Clipper

From, Dec 6 2008: 
An Alberta Clipper diving across the Midwest through the day with flurries and areas of steady snow will be followed by the coldest air of the season so far. Yet another blast next week will rival prior December outbreaks of the past decade.

We had been in the woods for half a year now.
This is the first time the kids experience such cold and snow. 
It is a headache for me, dressing the kids and keeping them warm.
Checking the website for weather changes hourly, has become a 'hobby' for me. When a frozen thermometer is displayed on the website, I freeze. Temperature shown may be -7C, but include in the wind chill, you get a realfeel of -14C. Tonight is going to be another cold night, with a frozen thermometer shown on the website. A cold freezing night with temperature of -16C. Are your teeth chattering as you read this?

It snowed all day, yesterday. 
We woke up this morning and this was what we saw:
At least 2 inches of snow covering the walkway. 
Strong wind had blown the snow into the covered walkway as well. 
We couldn't see the windows of our car .. and the colour of our car didn't help much... WHITE.

The one good thing is that : We need not shovel the snow on the walkway.
This guy will drive a machine and clear the path, covered with snow, with his huge rotating brush. Will try to take a video and post it next time. 

No wonder they call it .... a white christmas.

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