The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 48,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 11 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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.


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.


Imagine a toothbrush that smells and tastes like chocolate. Wouldn’t you want to brush your teeth more often? Well, that’s what this product is all about!

Chocolate toothbrushes

I bought them earlier this year and my kids love them. I’d like to see a couple of them appear in their stockings this year, so I hope Santa can remember where I bought them before, because I forget! In case you were wondering how a toothbrush can smell like chocolate, here’s a close up of the instructions.

chocolate toothbrushes instructions

What flavor would you want your toothbrush to be? What do you hope will appear in your stocking?

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.


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.


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.


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 has recently been encouraged by a beloved teacher to join the puzzle madness that is Sudoku. She has done so with great enthusiasm, even though she finds them a bit challenging.

When she was much younger, I used to play a timed version on the Internet, and would discourage being interrupted in the ten or so minutes of the game by telling her I was playing “the thinking game”. She knew I would be available as soon as the game ended, which would be in a few minutes. I haven’t played that timed game in years, but I still enjoy figuring out the ones in the paper. It looks like I’ll have to share them now.

Sudoku Sticker Fun

Jaylene’s skill level is much higher than these sticker book versions, but she loves playing them with Jayden. She helps him figure out where the sticker goes, and he happily listens to his older sister for a change. I’m always delighted when we find an activity that they are both interested in.

Sudoku Sticker Fun

What recommendations do you have for multi-aged activities?

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.

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

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Can’t resist the sparklies…
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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?

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February 2021