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We read The Life and Work of Henri Matisse by Paul Flux and and thought some of the Matisse paintings would be a good inspiration for our Unplug Your Kids’ challenge of fruit. First we picked out a painting we particularly liked.

Matisse - Polynesie, le ciel

Then we examined it carefully to discover what elements the artist used, and how they worked together. In this painting the background has alternating color blocks. The foreground has large white images, with some smaller ones sprinkled around. There’s a white frame around the whole design. It all works together to form a striking image. This is Jaylene’s version, which she calls “Chili Stars”

Chilli Stars

To make your own, you need two pieces of brightly colored origami paper (15x15cm) and some white paper. Cut the origami paper into blocks that are 5×7.5cm, and alternating colors, adhere them to the white paper. Then cut out or use paper punches for your chosen shapes, making sure there are large ones and small ones. Move them around until you come up with a design you like and then stick them down. Use specialty scissors (or just tear the edges) on the white paper, creating a frame that you’ll fold back over the design and glue down. Hang your artwork for all to admire.

We also drew inspiration from a series of faces painted on bright backgrounds.

Matisse - Faces

And this is what Jaylene came up with.

Fruit Jaylene

They look like simple drawings, but it took her many tries to come up with the final result. It was a good lesson on how artists often paint, repaint and repaint many times to produce a painting that looks effortless.

After all that, we needed a healthy snack to revive us, so we cut up some fruit for a fruit salad. When I was a kid, fruit salads meant apples, oranges and bananas. Today we had dragonfruit (bright pink peel with white inside), passionfruit (dark purple shell with yellow inside), custardfruit (puffy green with white inside) and starfruit (yellow through and through).


We didn’t end up using the custard fruit. I’m not even sure what the proper English term is for that one is. I think making up names for fruit is something we do often as we call wax apples, water apples. They’re much more watery than waxy, but I digress.

Fruit Salad

And what was Jayden working on while we were having such fun times?

Fruit puzzle

Puzzles and napping, but he helped us eat the salad, but only the white fruit of course.  That’s all he eats these days, white stuff.  What’s your favorite fruit?

Yup, another typhoon ruining a perfectly good weekend. We’d planned on going to the kite festival but that won’t happen. This sunday is also Teacher’s day which in Taiwan is to commemorate the birth of Confucius. My students pampered me on Friday with cards and flowers and actually doing their homework, while my request for a gift of a new house in Hawaii was ignored. However, one student generously offered me the use of his family’s Hawaiian home for a vacation… I’ll have to follow up on that one!

I put up Halloween decorations today in the afternoon when Ahji took the kids down to the community playroom to blow off some steam from being inside all day. Jaylene loved the surprise, but enjoyed the fact that she’s tall enough to touch the end of the dangly ones even more. If you participate in Halloween, when do you put decorations up? What decorations do you use?

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I was on a team of cool scrapbookers and card artists and other paper project makers and now the fruits of our labors is finally published.

asian scrapbooking

I don’t have my complimentary copy yet, and I’m not sure which of my projects actually ended up in the book, but I’ll let you know. Maybe I can get the authoress to give me some sneak peeks.

I’m not sure how to make a fancy Amazon box thing so I’ll just give you the link.

Part of our adventures in Green World involved an opportunity to see creatures we normally don’t see. And to actually touch some of the smaller ones. Ahji was thrilled to have a chance to hold this little green guy.

Snake Ahji

He tried to convince Jaylene she should hold him too. Even though she was born in the year of the snake, she wanted nothing to do with it. So, Ahji turned to the next in line and without asking the mother, plopped the snake around the wee one’s neck.

Snake Jayden

Jayden didn’t complain, he thought it was pretty cool. We had to keep him from grabbing the snake though, we didn’t want him to make it angry.

I even touched it for a while, and I usually never do gross things like that.

Snake me

It was a very short breakthrough for me though. I had no desire to touch the next creepy crawly offered to us.


Neither did my daughter, although my son was delighted to check it out.

Bug Jayden

I fear the days ahead when he’ll bring home souvenirs of his adventures in the great outdoors. For those of you with kids, what’s the most unusual item they’ve brought home or you discovered in their pockets?

The theme for toddlers over at Teaching Tiny Tots is leaves. We’re working on a counting book but I don’t know that it will be finished in time for Thursday. So I thought I’d share some pictures of Jayden’s classmates playing with leaves during music class. Jayden managed to evade the camera, he’s sneaky that way.

The kids had lots of fun in music class with leaves and scarves. First they threw the leaves up in the air, in time with music and then gathered them all up.

Then they carried them around, two by two on scarves, again to music. I think they also had a wind sound and when they heard the wind (or made wind sounds themselves) they bounced the scarf in the air, scattering the leaves.

When they tired of gathering and carrying, they sprinkled the leaves on each other. What tickley, giggley fun!

For more leafy ideas keep an eye out for Tiny Tot’s leaf round up. Also check out the layered leaf activity at Art Projects for kids, Maya Made’s wonderful fall leaves craft activity and My Montessori Journey has some fall decorations up and will be sharing some leaf songs in the near future.  I have plans for collecting some leaves for paint prints this weekend.  What do you like to do with leaves?

Well, we took a spontaneous trip down south and all the plans I’d made for our Unplug your kids’ challenge for Hard went right out the window. Perhaps we’ll do them for this week’s fruit challenge so I won’t give you any hints! I did think that we could upload a video of Jaylene singing the silly songs we made up to help her learn how to spell the numbers but she’s being shy and doesn’t want to share them with the internet world. I began to get a bit worried that we wouldn’t have a submission but then we saw this:

obstacle course

And that’s just part of the obstacle course. So instead of being all crafty or dipping our toes in some science fun, we did hard, physical exertion! Definitely out of my comfort zone, but it was a lot of fun.

There was rock climbing,
rock climbing

a wooden wall to climb,
the wall

a rope tunnel,
rope tunnel

and Jaylene’s favorite, a swinging bridge
swinging bridge

Jaylene was able to conquer her fear of bridges and walked along this gigantic rope bridge (after warming up on a smaller one) with only a minimal amount of complaining 😉

rope bridge

Even Jayden got in on the obstacle action,
Jayden rope bridge

He was even a good sport about us not letting him do the fun, aka dangerous parts.
Jayden climbing

So Jaylene faced her fear of bridges this weekend, and I touched a snake willingly for the first time (more on that later).  What fears have you overcome recently?

First we drove three hours (a bit of a roundabout way, I won’t say we got, ahem, lost) to get to Greenworld for family day.

1Green World

We held snakes and bugs, saw butterflies and birds and had a bunch of fun at various venues Acer had set up. Then we drove to Miaoli and stayed at the “West Lake Resortopia“. Cheesy name aside, it was a nice and clean hotel. No bathtub though, which was disappointing for the price.


We intended to visit the Wood Museum the next day, but our hotel gave us complimentary tickets to their “Reminiscent Cartoon Dream World” park so we hung out there instead.

1Dream World

Then it was a long drive home, which we extended to go play with friends (Keanu!) in the river.

I’ll post more pictures later, but in the meantime, how was your weekend?

I had visions of us skipping a block down the road to the beach and having all sorts of sandy adventures for the Unplug Your Kids challenge. The typhoon changed all that. Then I thought we could make some sand art using double-sided tape and colored sand. Jaylene had other plans and really wanted to make a paper model of an Egyptian pyramid. So that’s what we did. She went heavy on the scotch tape so it really doesn’t photograph well, but she had a lot of fun doing her project and that’s what matters.

We also had some fun dressing up as pirates and searching around our house for treasure “buried in the sand”. I must admit I felt like I was out at sea instead of on a beach with the all the water I was mopping up or wringing out, but whatever! I made this eye patch with a bit of felt and some ribbon.

Pirate Jaylene

There will be no pirate pictures of Jayden, even though he has the cutest little red striped shirt to complete the outfit. The thought of something touching his head is much more than he can stand, and the pirate costume calls for two head-touching items. I’m not sure how I’m going to convince him that it’s Taiwanese tradition for kids to wear a pumello hat at this time of year.

Here’s a few shots of our view during the typhoon…
typhoon rain
typhoon point

And an after shot for comparison…

typhoon after

Friends have posted on their blogs what they do during typhoons, so I thought I’d do the same.

Construction toys…
Typhoon Builder toys

The towel in the top right is to catch minor leaks or any water that seeps through the concrete.  We also had to stuff handtowels in the window sills because the wind would push the water up and over.  Eventually all the toys were put away and the mats pulled up. 

Piano time…
typhoon piano

typhoon drawing

Water painting…
typhoon water paint

Okay, so I soon grew tired of snapping pictures of every activity and gave up. We also played with dolls, blocks, fuse beads, food toys, farm toys, cars, made tents, read, cooked, danced, and a bunch of other things that I forget.

At the end of the day Jayden took a bath…
typhoon bath

Don’t let the water spray on the outside of the tub concern you, we’ve got a big drain in the floor. Unfortunately only the bathrooms and kitchen have the drain in the floors. In all the other rooms, where there aren’t drains, the windows flooded and the walls and ceilings leaked. It wasn’t a huge mess like we would get in previous typhoons, but it was inconvenient to take care of. But the storm seems to have passed now. Hopefully we’ll be able to get out of the house today as I’m running out of rainy day activities. Do you have special activities you do during rainy days?

But not together!  Last weekend we went hiking in Tienmu, this weekend we’re safely inside enduring the wrath of a slowmoving typhoon. 

We drove to the top of the trail, effectively cutting out a million steps in the journey, and walked along the leisurely meandering path.  It was slow going because Jayden was enthralled with all the glorious rocks available to pick up, throw down, and pick up again.


Luckily our hiking partners had a cute little boy who was interested in doing the same thing.
Boys Hiking

Jayden would be hardpressed to pick a favorite between playing with the rocks or the mountain water that was set up to flow out of a faucet.
Boy Water Break

His least favorite was the big pig, especially when his dad tried to make him sit on it.
Boys Pig

Overgrown sows invading our patio restaurant while we ate sweet potato soup aside, it was a most enjoyable, spontaneous way to celebrate my birthday last Sunday.

Tidbits of my life


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September 2008
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