15 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

February 8, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Lunar New Year is here! Our celebrations have morphed over the years, especially depending on the season of life and ages of children. Some years are more festive, while others simply get a “Happy New Year” and a nice meal for recognition.

Although we’re trying to establish a few traditions for the children, we don’t typically do the exact same thing every year. I think the main focus is that we do something to recognize the largest Chinese holiday for our children’s birth country, no matter how small or large. Especially as our children become more aware of their past, I want them to have opportunities to experience China right here in America, even though those experiences might not look exactly like authentic celebrations.

Here are 15 ideas from adoptive families across the country:

1. Read some of your family’s favorite Chinese New Year children’s books. Find a few at the library, or start your own collection.

2. Order Chinese takeout or eat out for an authentic Chinese meal. Or share a celebration meal with local Chinese friends or another adoptive family.

3. Gift your children hóng bāo (red envelopes) filled with a small amount of money.

4. Spend an afternoon rocking out to traditional Chinese music while making Chinese New Year crafts with friends.

5. Give the house a good and thorough clean out before Chinese New Year.

6. Buy a new outfit for your children and get them new haircuts.

7. Stay up late to celebrate the new year with sparklers and whipper snappers. Or just wait until it’s dark to celebrate, and then still go to bed on time.

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8. Attend your local Families With Children From China (FCC) New Year party. Or do some google research to find out if another similar local organization exists and hosts celebrations for adoptive families.

9. Check out local celebrations, programs, or performances. You can sometimes find them at libraries, local cultural associations, local Chinese schools, art museums, performance locations, martial arts centers, local universities, etc. Chinese dance and acrobatic performances can often be found in larger cities at this time of year. Parades and celebrations are usually hosted in Chinatowns.

10. Make jiǎozi (dumplings) with your family, or get a group together and make it a dumpling-making party! Rock out to traditional Chinese music while you stuff the wrappers! I love Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings cookbook for recipes.

11. Cook a few authentic dishes and have a hào chī (delicious) China-inspired evening of food.

12. Decorate the house with a few Chinese decorations to commemorate the special celebration.

13. Once the Christmas tree ornaments are down, replace them with some Chinese New Year tree ornaments.

14. Organize a Lunar New Year party and/or learning activity for your child’s classroom at school.

15. Get creative and throw a party at your home for local adoptive families or close friends.

Rock-a-Bye, Baby

February 7, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

I love how furniture has a history – how it tells a story – and nursery room furniture is no exception. When I was pregnant with my first child, I received a rocking chair from my sister-in-law, who had used it to rock her three babies. So many middle of the night feedings have taken place in that chair. Sick babies have been comforted while their fevers cooled. Countless books have been read in silly voices. I’ve snuggled my children, kissed their necks, and sang songs about our beautiful Savior in that rocking chair. Although there is nothing unique or special about the chair itself, it has become a sacred place where unconditional love is expressed between my children and me.

In God’s perfect design, all children are born into families who love and provide for them. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world where children are harmed by those who were created to protect them and relinquished by those who were meant to provide security. Sometimes this is an act of love. Other times, it’s not. The result is a baby who never gets to sit in a rocking chair each night with his mama or baba. No books, no kisses, no songs, no snuggles. Instead, these children find themselves in a room filled with cribs, often stark and cold, not even a mattress to bring them comfort. Vacant eyes of other children stare back at them while their needs and cries go unanswered. My heart aches for the thousands upon thousands, millions upon millions of babies who have to live apart from a family in these conditions.

Bringing home my China loves has only increased the beauty of the chair where I had previously rocked my first two sons. To connect with them in that sacred space was something I yearned for in the wait. God has provided so many opportunities for healing and bonding in that simple rocking chair. In that space, I can reassure my new sons, working to plant deep roots of security in their hearts. Watching those small seeds grow into trust and love is such a gift. A child whose body was rigid when held now asks to be rocked and cuddled. A child who turned his body away when hugged now tightly squeezes us with a smile on his face.


I’ll never forget the first night with Tyson after flying home from China. While holding my sweet son in the rocking chair and rhythmically patting his back, I whispered these words in his ear:


…and have continued to do so every night ever since. It was a tradition we started after bringing his big brother, Tucker, home 19 months prior. Knowing that nighttime can trigger fear and insecurity, we wanted our children to go to sleep every night hearing the names of the people who would love them forever. We wanted to reassure them that they are home and with their family. Sitting in that chair, while rocking my little guy, I have repeated “Mama, Dada, Noah, Liam, Tucker, Tyson, Home, Family” over and over again.

When TyTy came home, he calmed his fears by sucking his finger. I think that finger was in his mouth the entire 35-hour trip home from China. Once home, as soon as we would sit down in the rocking chair, Ty would pop his finger in his mouth and begin to close his eyes. Seven weeks later, he had surgery to repair his cleft palate, which meant arm restraints and no finger to suck. He reverted to what we guess was an old coping mechanism that we had never seen him exhibit before – rocking on all fours while banging his head against his crib. Sometimes the banging would occur with gentle rocking, while other times, he rocked and banged his head with great force. This was super heartbreaking to watch in the video monitor.

Without a mama in China to rock him, my baby learned to rock himself.


To help him feel more secure, we tried a multitude of strategies. I went into his room to comfort him. We used a weighted blanket to provide pressure and sensory input. We attempted to give him other comfort items for his crib. I ordered several essential oils to help him feel more peaceful. We even moved him into a pack-n-play because the walls were made with flexible material rather than the wooden slats that his crib offered. While I do believe that these strategies helped him to a certain extent, the behaviors of rocking and banging did not completely extinguish.

Over the past 8 months, I have sat in that chair, rocking my son before almost every nap and again almost every single night. I’ve continued to repeat the names of the people in our family, as well as the words home and family, each night before bedtime. Many times he will even repeat me, or he will say the words, and I will repeat him. Ty shows so many signs of improved security during the day and even at night. A few nights ago, I listened and watched him in the monitor. This time, there was no rocking – only peace – as he spoke these sweet words that I captured on video. And then he drifted off to sleep. Once again, the Lord has shown me that He heals in time and with love.

Sherry Waits for Her Family

February 6, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

This gentle, beautiful little girl is Sherry!


She was born in May of 2013 and her legs are paralyzed. Sherry was found when she was about 2 years old and had an EEG, head CT, and lower limb testing (results in file). She was very timid, depressed and scared of strangers but the nannies spent a lot of extra time with her and encouraged the other children to play with her. Over time, she began to be comfortable and is now optimistic and easy going. While her upper limbs move well, she had some delays with fine motor skills and has been receiving therapy for that.


Her teachers report that her intelligence, emotion, and language ability development is good and she can speak many words. She needs assistance with eating but is learning to use a spoon. She can hold a biscuit and clean her mouth with a towel. Sherry enjoys playing games and playing with new toys. Her favorite food is candy!! Sounds like every two year old I know smile emoticon Sherry is described as shy, quiet, introverted, quick in reaction, and gets along well with others.


Watch her incredibly sweet videos:

Sherry’s file is assigned to BAAS through an orphanage partnership. Her orphanage is known for their excellent care. Please contact Xiaoqing at BAAS for more information!

Kaleidoscope: One Year Home

February 5, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Today our family celebrates our One Year Home anniversary! I’ve often imagined what it would be like if I could travel back in time to those early days; what would I say to myself? What words of encouragement would One-Year-Home-Me have to say to Me-From-A-Year-Ago? This is how I imagine it would go… //// Hi …Read More

find my family: Layla

February 4, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Layla was born July of 2014. She is described as an extroverted little girl who likes playing with mirrors, and being held by her nanny. Though her development is behind compared to other children, she can babble and say “mama,” and will clap her hands in greeting! As of December she was crawling and standing …Read More

The Perfect Fit for Our Family

February 3, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


My husband and I were only married a year when the Lord called us to adopt. Separately, we both felt the Lord speak to us about adopting a little girl from China – we told each other a few days later. It was encouraging to hear that call, and we were both excited for the …Read More

Celebrating China: Children’s Books

February 2, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


In years past, I’ve scoured websites and bookshelves for every Chinese New Year/Spring Festival themed kids’ book around to read to our clan in anticipation of the holiday. We found some good ones and some not so good ones. Overthinker that I am, I hope my musings help you decide which ones are worthwhile for …Read More

find my family: Gwen

February 2, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


Gwen was born in September 2005 and brought to the hospital to be treated for Neonatal Septicemia when she was about a week old. During her hospital admission her parents did not return for her and she was declared abandoned. After spending several weeks in the hospital for observation she was moved to her orphanage. …Read More

Heart Month: Little Hearts Medical

February 1, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


It’s February 1. Happy American Heart Month! To start off heart month here at NHBO, I asked Andrea Olson to share. Andrea has shared here before, as mom to four children with complex (some with very complex) heart needs. But today Andrea is sharing as the Executive Director of Little Hearts Medical. One of her …Read More

My Family’s First “Real” Chinese New Year

January 31, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


My son was only 18 months old when Chinese New Year approached last year. From his perch on my shoulders, he gasped in amazement at the dragon dancers advancing along Market Street during San Francisco’s Chinese New Year parade, but he was too young to understand the cause for all the fuss. Now a year …Read More

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