Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter dresses

Just wanted to show off these Easter dresses I made for this year.  I even got to do some fabric painting!  

Friday, April 11, 2014

East Asia Trip

We just got back from an incredible trip to parts of Eastern Asia.  We started in Beijing, took a train to Shanghai, flew to Hong Kong, flew to Manila, drove to Tagatay and the Taal Volcano, drove to Batangas, back to Manila, flew to Osaka, took a train to Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Tokyo, flew to Busan, flew to Seoul, flew back to Beijing and arrived home yesterday morning.  Whew!

I've uploaded a selection of our pictures and tried to organize them by location.  I plan on writing more about each place and what we saw and did.  For now, you can look through the pictures and see for yourself just how incredible these places of the world are.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

St. Patrick's Day

The kids had a fun time attending a St. Patrick's Day party this year, hosted by some new friends Erica and Alexandra.  Our friend Natalie organized a cute craft for the kids.  It produced a very fun picture I thought was worth sharing.  

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Winter Fun

I love Wintertime! There are days you go outside and roll in the snow; other days, you want to stay inside and make-believe an adventure.  This Winter we tried to do a variety of things and as I was looking through our pictures, I thought to share some of them with you!

Princesses!  Jane and I made crowns and necklaces for each other out of beads and pipe cleaners. 

Playing outside on a "warmer" day.  Harry just looks so cute in his snow suit.
That suit was passed down from my younger brothers who are now in their 20s!
Look at me!
Going down the slide all by himself!

Sledding with friends Natalie and Leyla!
Pirate day!  Arrgh matey! (That's what we did today!)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Activities for the kids

I've been searching for ideas to help make the Nativity and Christ-center activities fun for the kids this year. I asked friends, I consulted Pinterest -- I gathered and gleaned and prayed a lot.  Finally, I came up with an idea for a seven day journey leading up to Christ's birth.  There's nothing special about the number 7 and activities can be added or taken away depending on how many days you want it to last. 

It begins by meeting the guide, a wise man (not necessarily one of the three wise men), who will be giving the children various tasks and activities to do to help him as he searches for something very important.  Every morning he leaves items out for the children and the kids have all day to complete them.  

Here is an example of Day 1 
We start with the little introduction card which kind of explains the purpose for the series of activities.  I did my best to be cool and rhyme-y which was more for me than for the children. 
Along with the introduction card is a scroll with the day's assignment.  It explains what the children will be learning and what activities they need to do.  
 Here is the text for what I wrote in the scroll for Day 1:

Let me introduce myself!  I am a wise man.  What is a wise man?  Well, I’ll tell you!   A wise man looks for knowledge, he loves to learn.  Do you love to learn?  He reads books, he writes down what he is learning, he practices what he has learned.  Do you read books?  Do you write things down?  Do you practice what you learn?  That’s wonderful!  I think you must be wise man too!  Or should I say wise girl or boy?

Now, long ago, there were three wise men who were very wise and knew a lot! They were named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar.  Their story is very important.  They first took a lot of time learning and studying.   To practice what they learned, they set out on an important journey, just like you and me!

So here is your assignment.  I want you to learn about wise men.  I want you to read and study and write just like wise men.   I want you to dress up and feel just like a wise man (or girl, or boy)!  So, what should you read?  Start by reading about the three wise men I was just telling you about.  You can find their story in the Bible.  The Bible is a very important book that many wise men study today.   
Good luck!  I will be back tomorrow to give you another assignment.  Work hard!  I know you will do great!

For the activities, I had a bin on the floor filled with items that could be used for dress up and scriptures to help the kids read about the wise men.

Day 1 was a huge success.  Throughout the day Jane would dress up and write out on scrolls.  She'd roll them up and give them to us and visiting friends.  We looked at the scriptures together and found where it mentions the wise men.  As the kids get older we'll be able to focus more on this latter part and find out fun facts about the three wise men.

As for the rest of the days, I have each one laid out below.  I collected various activities from Pinterest or other Internet resources to augment some of the days -- like the "Follow that Star Game" and "Shepherd's Maze" which came from   If you would like more information and more details about each day, leave a comment and I'll fill you in as I go.

Day 1 – Meet the wise man who is your guide.  He will be telling you about various parts of an important story.  He first tells of three other wise men who lived long ago and studied a lot about the coming of Jesus Christ, the son of God.  We learn the names of these wise men, what they did, how they dressed…

Activities/Materials: Wise men “costumes” to dress up like wise men.  Books to “study”, paper to “write” scrolls.  For older children, have them research the three wise men and who they were, where they were from, and other interesting facts about wise men.
Day 2 – What were the signs of Christ’s coming?  The three wise men studied and found what to look for so that they would know when Christ came.  They studied the stars and they studied the scriptures.  Now it's your turn to be like the wise men and look for the signs of Christ's birth.

Activities/Materials:  For older children, spend time studying the scriptures and find verses which tell of the signs of the birth of Jesus Christ.  For LDS families, include the Book of Mormon in your scripture search.  For younger children explain that one of the major signs of Christ's birth was a special star that would shine brightly in the sky.  For the main activity you'll need a dark bed sheet, tape, and paper stars.  Have the children decorate and cut out the stars.  Have them make one star extra special.  Stick stars onto the bed sheet.  Once they are all stuck on the bed sheet, create a place where you can stretch out the sheet and lay under it.  Have everyone lay under it and look for the special star.  Additional activities might include *Follow that Star game or other games related to the wise men following a star to get to the baby Jesus.

Day 3 – What gifts are good enough for a king?  The wise men had to think about what gifts were suitable to give the baby Jesus, the son of God.  They decided to give three very precious things.  What precious things can we give baby Jesus?

Activities/Materials: Discuss the three gifts from the wise men.  What made each gift special? Have the children think about what kinds of things God would like us to give Him. For the activity, you'll need a box, gift wrap, and a few "prompt" items to put into the box.  Have the children think about and add items of their own. Have the children put these items in a box.  Items might include paper with words expressing characteristics like "patience" or actions like "I will share with others".  It might be a nice picture the kids draw or items that the children value such as a loved toy or treat.  After all the items are placed in the box, wrap it up and put it under the Christmas tree.  (And if you're at my house, don't worry if the box gets opened up and re-wrapped by the kids a few times -- or not re-wrapped.)  

Day 4 – Mary and Joseph were very special people.  An angel came to Mary and told her that she would be the mother of the son of God.  An angel also visited Joseph and told him that Mary would be blessed and have God’s son.  Both Mary and Joseph had a lot of faith.  Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem because the Romans, who were the rulers at the time, wanted to count all of the people and have them pay a tax.  Mary travelled on a donkey a long way to Bethlehem.  Her husband Joseph helped her and took care of her because she would deliver the baby Jesus soon.

Activities/Materials:  Tell the story of Mary and Joseph.  For older children add in more details about culture relating to marriage at that time.  Discuss why it required so much faith for Mary and Joseph to trust in God and obey Him.  Activities might include having the children pack up for a long journey to Bethlehem.  Have them think about all the things they might need.  Load it all up and make a small trek around the house.  Additional activities might include coloring pages, dressing up like Mary and Joseph, etc.

Day 5 –  When Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, the innkeepers were very busy.  They had many people staying at their inns and they had no room for Joseph and Mary.   Finally, one innkeeper found space for them in the stable with his animals.  How can we save a better place for Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus in our own lives?

Activities/Materials: Have magazines with a lot of pictures for the children to use.  Also print out a picture of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus and set it aside.  Instruct the children cut them out and paste any of the magazine pictures onto a piece of paper.  When they are done, present the picture of Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus.   Ask if there is space on the page to fit the picture.  If there is, evaluate the location.  Is it the best place?  Then bring out a fresh piece of paper and put the picture of Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus in the center.  Then talk about what things we can do to help us leave room for Jesus Christ.  Include ideas like the scriptures, nature scenes, family pictures or pictures of families, service and helping others, etc.  Have the children decorate around the new page with pictures of these things.

Day 6 – Shepherds were watching over their sheep when an angel came and told them that the baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem and that they should go and see the baby.  They saw more angels singing and praising God.   They were amazed!  They went and looked for the baby Jesus.  But how would they know what he looked like?  The angel told them that the baby would be in a stable with animals and that he would be laying in a manger where animals eat, and that he would be wrapped in a simple cloth perfect for a newborn baby.
Take the time to learn more about Shepherds and the stable where Christ was born.

Activities/Materials –  Prepare a puzzle of a picture of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus.  On the back of each piece or select pieces, write scripture versus that apply.  Create a treasure hunt to find pieces to the puzzle.  Have the children put the puzzle together and reveal the picture. Explain that the shepherds were important witnesses of the birth of the Savior.  But, they had to look for the Savior just like in the treasure hunt.  We should be like the shepherds and search for Jesus Christ.  Additional activities would include * Shepherd maze printout,  Counting sheep printout, etc.

Day 7 – Wise men seek him, shepherds seek him, we should seek for Jesus too.  The baby Jesus is the greatest gift that we can receive because of what his birth, life, death, and resurrection mean.  Give the lasting message.

Activities/Materials:  Take time to review all of the steps and activities completed over the last few days. As a final activity have the children put together their own nativity.  Make sure to include each character.  Some ideas for materials can include a * Paper nativity set printout, toilet paper roll nativity characters, etc.  You can use any of your own nativity sets too as you discuss and review parts of the nativity.  Additional activities may include the *Nativity game or Find the missing character (take away a character while the child's eyes are closed and have them guess which one is missing).

I hope this gives you some of your own ideas too!  Feel free to share and add your thoughts and activities to ours!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

And for my next trick....

One afternoon Jane, Harry, and I are sitting down to lunch and I see that Harry needs some water.  I fill a cup with a little water and set it on his highchair tray.  He looks at it, takes a sip, and then starts looking around for something.  He slips his hand to his side, feels around a little, and pulls out another cup from his seat.  It reminds me of the scene from "Elf" when Buddy pulls out a small bottle of maple syrup from inside his sleeve. Anyway, Harry then uses the second cup to pour water between the two.  It was just so funny how he found the second cup and knew exactly what he wanted to do with it that I did my best to capture a few pictures of his cute little trick.

Harry produces his second cup.

Harry enjoys the sport of water pouring.

Harry cleans up afterward.


This year for Halloween I wanted to make it extra fun.  I decided to make up little witches that would leave things behind for Jane, either little treats, games, or activities.  But the witches were scared away by children who were not nice or screamed too much.  You had to be gentle and kind if you wanted the witches to visit.  Kind of different from what Halloween usually is, but we had a lot of fun.

We also got to host this year's children's Halloween party!  Local friends came and I created stations around the house for kids to go through some obstacle or do some activity.  Then we played a few games and read stories.  I really enjoyed putting it all together and appreciated the contributions and help from the other moms.

As for our costumes this year..... a big "thanks!" goes to Aunt Sharole and Uncle Toby!  They passed on some of the costumes their children wore and that's exactly what we used.  Harry dressed up as a pumpkin and Jane was a witch.  Spooktacular if you ask me, especially since I didn't have to buy or make anything (except for Jane's witch-hat barrette)!

In addition to the Halloween party we hosted, the embassy put on a Halloween party as well.  I volunteered as a face painter and got to do a range of fun things like dragons, skeletons, an airplane, and butterflies.

Here are a few picture highlights from our Halloween holiday!

In our costumes for Halloween.
Jane plays the cake walk at the embassy Halloween party
Jane is so silly whenever I try to get her to pose for a picture.
Jane and Harry before our little Halloween party.  They are standing in front of the Haunted Pumpkin Patch station.
The kids playing a game - "don't-let-the-balloons-touch-the-floor". It seemed to keep them busy for a while!  I need to come up with a better name though....
My sign to the Spider's Lair.
Kids inside the lair, trying to find the black widow spider in the upper right-hand corner.  Make sure you don't touch the randomly placed little spiders or black spiderwebs!

The Witch's Cauldron station, bean bag toss, where kids got to add "ingredients" to three cauldrons.  I had little pots of  bean bags labelled as items like bat wings, frog eyes, and worms. 
The Haunted Pumpkin Patch where kids decorate a ghost, put on a blindfold and place their ghost somewhere in the pumpkin patch.
Decoration hightlights