Cole, Alex, & Anna Grace

Monday, September 12, 2011

Autumn Moon Festival and the Hunt for Moon Cakes

One of Anna Grace's favorite books is Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

She loves reading about how a Chinese family celebrates by eating a picnic under a full moon with brightly light Chinese lanterns.

The official date for the Chinese Moon Festival is today, but we celebrated over the weekend since Alex has soccer games on Monday nights.

Last year we celebrated while we watched football on TV, so we continued with the tradition this year. We ate our normal "football finger foods," but we added in some Chinese treats.

Before the football game started, Anna Grace and I drove to the large Asian grocery store about an hour away in search of Chinese moon cakes which, according the book, are eaten during the Moon Festival. Last year we settled for the Southern favorite "moon pies," but I am trying very hard to learn more about Chinese traditions and cultures, and I was determined to find real Chinese moon cakes.

After walking around the store for about 30 minutes without any luck, I started asking shoppers and employees if they knew what a moon cake was. My problem was that I do not read the Chinese labels, and I had no idea what I was looking for. The store is huge and has aisles and aisles of foods that I have never seen anywhere else. Who knew there were so many kinds of soy sauce? This place is nothing like Publix! I must have asked at least 10 people before someone in customer service finally pointed me in the right direction. We ended up finding what we were looking for before we headed home. During our search, we also found Anna Grace's favorite Chinese yogurt drinks, little cups of Chinese fruit "jello" that the boys love, Asian pears, and more of Anna Grace's favorite steamed buns.

Unfortunately after all of that work, no one except Anna Grace liked the moon cakes. It seems that there are different flavors of the filling in the centers and we ended up with a red bean paste filling- not exactly what we were expecting to find inside of a cake!!

Each time I go to the Asian grocery store we find a new adventure. It does not seem common for a white woman to be walking around the store with a beautiful Chinese girl. We get lots of stares!! During our search for moon cakes we were offered fish soup (not yummy!) and oyster balls and got shooed away from the Korean bakery section for asking about Chinese moon cakes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Unofficial End of Summer

Summer is not officially over, but the camper has been packed away and the pool towels have been washed and folded for possibly the last time this year. We spent our last weekend of summer camping in the mountains of North Carolina with family. Many months ago, we began planning to join our family for a big weekend of camping to end the summer. We met up with my cousin's and brother's families, and my aunt and grandmother drove to the campground each day.

The trip did not start out as easily as we had hoped. We left Friday evening after I got off of work, and just as it started to get dark and rain started to fall, we got a flat tire on our camper. Thankfully, we discovered the quickly leaking tire when Alex needed (another) potty break and we were able to find a parking lot and buy a jack before the tire was completely flat and the night was completely dark. Then, we made a wrong turn down a very dark and narrow dead end road and almost did not get the camper turned around. We finally made it to the campground just as it really started to rain heavily. Of course it stopped raining right after we got soaked setting up camp for the weekend! Other than a broken pipe that leaked water all over our carpet in our camper, the rest of the weekend was filled with the fun of camping- lots of kids, bike riding, fishing, water slides, roasting get the picture!

The campground had plenty of things for the kids to do.

The boys enjoyed learning to paddle kayaks and everyone had a great time on the peddle boats.

One of the highlights of the weekend was supposed to be a fishing tournament. The campground advertises a stocked lake.

We brought a prize for the winning family in the fishing tournament in order to stir up some friendly competition.

The winner of the fishing tournament was.... drum roll please.... the fish!!! Not one person caught a fish all weekend. Not even Anna Grace who kept calling, "Here fishy, fishy, fishy!" Hmmm. Now that I think of it, that may be the reason that all of the fish were scared away...Regardless, the kids had fun trying and thankfully the prize could be divided among the 3 little boys who tried so hard to catch a fish.

A favorite of any camping trip is always the campfire and roasting marshmallows.

The campground had a big dance Saturday night in the pavilion, so in between rounds of dancing, the kids came back to the campsite to make s'mores.

This is the little frog that Anna Grace decided was sad because he needed to find his mommy. I was a little surprised that she would hold the frog since she usually does not want to get her fingers dirty.

Now that summer is unofficially over, we are ready for cooler weather, football, and fall leaves.