Wednesday, February 28, 2007

February News Flash

James has decided to promote himself from the rank of crawler to walker. He is so excited about being independent that he cannot stop walking. I need to eat 3 plates of rice to keep up with him because he runs instead of walk. James is 13 and 1/2 months old. Well done James.

Please accept my sincere apologies for the quality of the photos. Being an amateur photographer, I find it quite difficult ‘catching’ all the little Speedy Gonzales. Maybe I will replace the photos if I can manage to get clearer ones later but these are his real first steps on his own. Do you think that I should replace them?

This month we bid farewell to Michael who has ‘graduated’ from our centre.

Remember him in his modeling role?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

An appeal for your help

Breast cancer is a dreaded disease amongst women and with early detection it can be treated and lives saved. I appeal to all the women and also the men who visit my blog to help those less fortunate than us by clicking daily on the Breast Cancer site. You do not have to pay anything as the clicks will be paid by sponsors.

About The Breast Cancer Site

Your click on the “Fund Free Mammograms” button helps provide free mammograms for women in need — low-income, inner-city and minority women whose awareness of breast cancer and opportunity for help are often limited. Your click is paid for by site sponsors, and mammogram funding is provided to clinics by the efforts of the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

My number one passion in life is to make sure that all children whatever their race or creed be given the best care and opportunity to enable them to grow up to be strong, healthy and responsible adults so that they can contribute to making a safe and peaceful world for all of us. The following sites are linked to the Breast Cancer site so please click on them and help the children of our world.

About The Child Health Site

The Child Health Site is dedicated to funding simple and very effective preventative and specific treatment with the goal of robust child health around the globe.

About The Literacy Site

The Literacy Site is dedicated to funding free books for children. 61 percent of low-income families have no books for children in their homes. Over 80 percent of childcare centers serving low-income children lack age-appropriate books and other print materials.

About The Hunger Site

The Hunger Site was founded to focus the power of the Internet on a specific humanitarian need: the eradication of world hunger. To date, more than 200 million visitors have given more than 300 million cups of staple food.

Please remember to click every day to help those less fortunate than us. There are also has some beautiful items for sale and all proceeds go to the relevant sites. Thank you so very much for your support.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Chinese New Year

This month we celebrate the Chinese New Year on February 19th. We wish all our Chinese members Gong Xi Fa Cai.

Our only decorations at the baby centre.

The lion dance is an important tradition in China and South East Asian countries. Usually the dance is part of festivities like Chinese New Year, the openings of restaurants and sometimes at weddings. If well-performed, the lion dance is believed to bring good luck and happiness.

Although lions are not native in China, they came to this country via the famous Silk Road. Rulers in what is today Iran and Afghanistan sent lions to the Chinese emperors as gifts in order to get the right to trade with Silk Road merchants. The lion dance dates back to the Han Dynasty (205 B.C. to 220 A.D in China) and during the Tang Dynasty (716-907 A.D.) it was at its peak.

The lion dance is enacted by two dancers. One handles the head, made out of strong but light materials like paper-mache and bamboo, the other plays the body and the tail under a cloth that is attached to the head. The 'animal' is accompanied by three musicians, playing a large drum, cymbals and a gong. A Little Buddha teases it with a fan or a giant ball. The head dancer can move the lion's eyes, mouth and ears for expression of moods.
The lion dance combines art, history and kung fu moves. Normally the performers are kung fu practitioners. Every kind of move has a specific musical rhythm. The music follows the moves of the lion: the drum follows the lion, the cymbals and the gong follow the drum player.

For Chinese people the lion is a holy animal (how right they are!). That is why lions play an important role in Chinese mythology. In China lions and people can be friends. An old Chinese story tells about a lion, lion dances and New Year:

A long time ago a strange creature called 'nien' which sounds like the Chinese word for 'year' appeared in China and horrified and ate men and animals. Neither the fox nor the tiger could fight the 'nien' effectively and in despair the people asked the lion for help. The lion shook his mane, rushed towards the creature and wounded it. The nien hurried away with the tail between its legs. But it vowed to return for revenge. A year later the nien did return. This time the lion couldn't help the people. He was too busy guarding the emperor's gate. So the villagers decided to do the job themselves. Out of bamboo and cloth they produced an image of the lion. Two men crawled inside it and approached the nien. The 'lion' pranced and roared and the monster fled away again. This is the reason why we always have lion dances during the Chinese New Year. They are frightening evil away for yet another year.

In my family we always invite a lion dance troupe to dance for us so that we will have good luck for the year. The lion will go through every part of the house and even roll on the beds to ensure good health for the occupants. Nowadays they even roll on our cars so that we are safe when traveling.

Lion dancers rolling on my little kancil.