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Happy 2012! Our Christmas tree has been de-decorated for some time, but was sadly languishing in the corner of our living room, looking somewhat bare and exposed. Ahji is in charge of removing the lights, dismantling the tree and returning it to storage. He promised he would do that “soon”, but I had my doubts. As I’m fairly lazy and didn’t want to take down the tree myself, we decorated it for Chinese New Year.

CNYtreetop

I like having all the ornaments in one place and not scattered around our house. Traditionally they dangle from pussy willow branches. Our tree also provides a nice display of the ornaments the kids have made in school over the years.

CNYtree closeup

May the year of the Dragon be a prosperous and joyful one for you.

Jaylene requested a lego party for her tenth birthday. She’s never really had a big party before, so she was pretty excited about this one. This has been months in the making so I had time to collect a lot of ideas which I stored on my Pinterest Lego Board. In the end we kept it simple though and everything went smoothly.

Our colors were pink and grey, and our theme was lego. As guests came into the KTV room, they were greeted by a dessert table full of Jaylene’s favorite treats. There were strawberry doughnuts, strawberry oreos, pink macaroons, pink pocky sticks and lots of pink marshmellows. We also had pink frosted cupcakes on a cupcake holder made from paper plates and cups. Jaylene spent hours creating the pink and grey lego castles on display.

dessert table

Inside we had pink and grey buckets of lego waiting to be played with. The girls were ambitious and created a 14 level pyramid that miraculously stayed intact until the end of the party.

Nicole

The kids played with legos and the adults chatted while everyone arrived. It was a new location and some people got lost. It was pouring rain outside and Ahji had to make a few rescue runs to collect some soggy guests. Luckily the food was delivered without a problem from one of Jaylene’s favorite restaurants in Tamshui – Kooks.

After munching on felafels, tortillas, sandwiches, salads and more, it was time for the games! As we had kids from the ages of almost two to twelve, we kept the games pretty simple. One was a relay race where they had to balance a bowl on their head, pick out five different colors of legos and then race back to dump it into their team’s bucket. At the end of the race I declared everyone a winner and gave them all a race car kit to assemble. It was so quiet while they were working on their cars.

Race Car Assembly

Then it was race time! Each kid got to race in an “official” race and then picked out a prize. Unofficial races continued on for the rest of the party.

Racetime

Most of the prizes were small kits of vehicles but I managed to find a few princess themed ones. Of course Jayden picked out a princess one for his prize. I also had in some lego shaped notebooks and correction tape and even ear buds that looked like legos, so that the older kids could have something they’d enjoy at home. Races and prize picking continued for awhile and then it was pinata time!

Pinata Jaylene

The pinata was supposed to be a giant pink lego brick but I couldn’t get the connectors to look right. Oh well, a big pink frilly bag that you whack is just as fun! I didn’t make the strings long enough so poor Ahji got his hands hit more than he would have liked. He was a good sport about it all. I had punctured holes along the bottom of the bag to help it tear easily but the kids kept hitting the top. Originally I’d planned to do a pull string pinata but I was told that would eliminate all the fun. And they did have fun!

Pinata Open!

Then it was time for the cake.

Lego Cake Family

I had grand ideas of having a bakery make one of those famous lego looking cakes but decided that I didn’t want to deal with a disaster if they didn’t quite understand what I was asking for. So we kept it simple and got some loaf cakes with macaroons on top to look like legos. The bakery thought we were crazy for not wanting a more elaborate design, but Jaylene loved her pink lego cake.

Lego Cake Jaylene 1st slice

A party in Taiwan isn’t complete if there isn’t karaoke so that’s how the party ended.

karaoke Jaylene Amanada

Guests left with their goodies in favor bags that Jaylene made herself. It was a huge undertaking for her but she persevered and had enough for everyone.

Jayden Nicole lego bag

Jaylene was delighted with her party and is happily enjoying life as a ten-year old!

As mentioned in the previous post, Jaylene and Jayden have fun working on the sticker Sudoku book together. There are leftover stickers which Jayden puts to good use in creating his own collector cards.

cards

Taiwan sells boxes of these name card sized cards. They’re the perfect size for our artists and a few cards will entertain the kids for a surprisingly long time. Do you recognize the following cartoon characters?

angry birds

angry pigs

If you guessed a flock of angry birds(card 1) and the naughty green pigs (card 2) then you’re right!

What themes are in your kid art these days?

Jaylene is getting more than a little excited about her upcoming birthday. I am more than a little reluctant to see my baby girl enter the double digits. To help keep things festive, I created a little countdown calendar for her.

Birthday countdown
It was inspired by this cute Santa Beard advent calendar. Jaylene’s having fun using our decorative scissors to cut away strips. The closer we get to the big day, the shorter her present becomes.

What do you do to celebrate birthdays?

Some sparkly stones, scarves in water and jewel tones and a tiara or two can create a wonderful world that exists below the water’s surface.

11-10-15 100

What’s more fun than helping a mermaid swim through an underwater tunnel?

11-10-15 106

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Can’t resist the sparklies…
11-10-15 112

This play area was set up for weeks, but there were still tears when it was time to clean it up. Do you have any tips on how to dismantle a large scale play area?

Jaylene (white paper below) and I (yellow paper) have been making endless doodles, inspired by this lesson. We find a square and fill it up. Some of them we jazz up with color, most we just doodle and move on.

doodles

What’s been mesmerizing you lately?

We’re creeping into the last days of summer so we thought we would host a playgroup potluck. Jaylene being the creative girl she is, wanted to have an Angry Birds theme. So we did!

This was our snack table, before all of the food was added.
table

The large square angry birds are paper covered cardboard with Printable angry bird faces. I believe they were intended for balloons. These squares are actually from my classroom. I use them as mascots for team games and as a conversation starter during the “get-to-know-you” phase of the school year. Jaylene worked very hard to create the watermelon and lemon pig decorations. The lemon pigs were a huge hit with the guests and most of them were taken home as favors.

pigs

Earlier in the summer, Jaylene practiced some map skills by creating an “Angry Bird Land” map. It was a perfect touch as a decoration.

map

As guests arrived they could work together on our “Design a level” paper.
design a level

I was a little worried about how the different ages would collaborate but I think most of it was done by Jaylene. The other kids enjoyed playing the homemade board games we had set out.

angry birds board game

Once all the guests had arrived we began the competitive games. During Dragonboat festival, I found a market vendor who was selling Angry Bird character “fragrant bags”. They were fairly inexpensive, and thankfully not fragrant at all. I scooped a bunch up and my kids have enjoyed creating a version of Angry Birds Live.

live

They set up “castles” with the foam blocks and then toss the birds to try and knock down the pigs.

live game

We also played a game where each team tried to keep the birds and pigs on the other team’s side by throwing them. It was a fast and fun game, but hard to determine a winner. Next on the schedule was to create your own Angry birds on circle sticky notes.

make an angry bird

We then taped the “Design a level” to the wall and played a version of pin the tail on the donkey, using the sticky note angry birds.

game 2

That was it for the structured games so it was time to hand out the prizes. I forgot to take a picture before the kids started choosing.

prizes

The rest of the time was spent munching and chatting and watching the kids play Pig-in-the-middle, Dodge-ball and Keep-away with the stuffed pigs. I couldn’t think of a better way to end the summer.

How are you finishing up the season?

While not on the scale of these, mini sculptures, I think Jaylene did an awesome job creating this teeny tiny paper airplane.

Jaylene's tiny paper airplane

What small things have been making you smile these days?

I really appreciate how Jayden’s school has a blog that they upload pictures to *every* day. It does mean that I have 200 or so pictures to go through each week to download the ones that have my cutie in them. Thankfully it doesn’t take much time, and I love seeing what he’s up to. It makes chatting with him about school much easier because I can ask him about specific activities he did instead of the generic, “What did you do in school today?”

However, today instead of having a happy, warm fuzzy feeling when perusing the school photos, I gave a gasp and felt my heart race. Last night the teacher called us and asked if they could borrow some of my craft punches. She spoke with my husband and he’s never a very thorough translator. I assumed they were for making graduation books. We all know what happens when you assume… Anyway, I’m skimming through their blog and I see this:

F23_20110429033710292

Cute little chefs using my craft punches to create seaweed shapes for sushi. Which they then consumed. I *really* hope they cleaned them first. Had I known the intended use I would have sent along the punches I own that are specifically for seaweed. Although, I only have three of those. Unlike my outrageous amount of craft punches.

F23_20110429035020485

So, should I ask to see if they washed them first? Or maybe I don’t want to know the answer.

Playing card holder

I saw this project floating around the internet years ago and made one for Jaylene when she was a wee little one. Jayden used hers for a bit but it got lost so I made up a new one for him today. I thought I’d share with you the process.

Materials: A clear plastic lid, a back (I’ve used another lid but this time we used a paper plate cut to size), a brad (paper fastener), and a washer of some sort (it could be thick paper with a hole in the middle).
Playing card holder materials

Layer the materials together and thread onto the brad. We originally were using two of the little coins in the middle, but found the cards slipped through, so we took one out.

Decorate!

Decorated playing card holder

And here’s an action shot.
playing card holder Jayden

Uno and Go fish are Jayden’s favorites at the moment. Jaylene likes Uno, Set and Monopoly Deal. What are your favorite card games?

Tidbits of my life

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