“a big fish, a big fish, and a little fish”

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We have been eagerly anticipating our trip to the Living Planet Aquarium with Ms. Shan for the last week or so. Megan kept saying that she was going to see “a big fish, a big fish, and a little fish.” Which we did…and then some. <wink> Here are some pics from the day. Megan loved sticking her hand in the sting ray tank (she couldn’t reach down to pet them though.) and also loved looking at the sharks and nemo. Both girls spent most of their time playing in the “reef.” It was fun for all!

the girls entranced at a fish tankemily checking out the fish

Joseph and Nicholas

Meg and Eliza climbing Megan peeking out of a crack in the coral

Zanie and Emily Zani and Sophie

tissue butterflies

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Applying the design with startchThese turn out so great and are surprisingly easy to do.

Materials:

Tissue paper in a variety of colors

(I also put out a few rolls of crepe paper for more texture)

Liquid starch (laundry isle at your grocery store)

paintbrushes

wax paper

pipe cleaner or cardstock for the body

Directions:

1. Pour liquid starch into small bowls and set out with other materials. Tear off a sheet of wax paper large enough to accomodate your butterfly.

2. Tear (or cut) small pieces of tissue paper and lay down on the wax paper in the design you want for your butterfly wings.

3. Gently brush the tissue paper with the starch, make sure that you get all of your wing wet with the starch.

4. Let dry, then peel off of the wax paper.

5. Use the pipe cleaners or cut a body from construction paper. (Use both, if you’d like.)

6. These look cute hung in the window or perched on a dresser or mirror.

Finished butterfly

Gently peel the wing off of the paper Gluing the wings onto body

letterboxing

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I have had a serious case of the winter blahs lately. It always hits me toward the end of February. (When the flowers are starting to pop out in Oregon and I am stuck in Salt Lake with it’s 23 shades of brown and 72 shades of gray.) I love Utah, but let’s be honest…this is not the most appealing time of year here.

…Enough grousing. What can we do? Today I stumbled onto letterboxing, which looks like a great cure for boredom blues. You follow the clues to find a box with a log book and stamp hidden in various locations all over the country. You stamp your own stamp in their book (like a guestbook) and then stamp the location’s stamp in your book. The stamps are usually handmade, so it is a great art-appreciation activity for your family. Often the sites have a historical significance, so it is also a fun and authentic way to get a little bit of history into the mix. This just sounds perfect! It looks like many of the clues are at the end of a hike, so those will have to wait until springier weather; but I am already planning the details for planting my first box and looking forward to heading to Holladay Library for my first stamp. I will post more on making my stamps later. Right now, I am just excited about this fun new activity and wanted to share!

happy valentine’s day

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valentine’s dinnerThis Valentine’s I committed to let go of my expectations and make this day fun and more about my family than the mushy greeting card-will he turn into Mr. Darcy because it is Valentine’s? stuff. (Which is the long way of saying that I am not making it about me; I guess.) And, as I expected, it was a really great day. Megan had an over-the-top good time in preschool (Miss Shan really is the best teacher ever!) Then we headed over to Carl’s Jr. (and their fabulous playplace and star-shaped chicken nuggets…not to mention fabulously edible adult food.) with Ali and Eliza. The site of Eliza throws both my girls into fits of joy. (Megan couldn’t stop hugging her.) I feel pretty much the same way about Ali (I try to hold back on the hugging though.) To the point: kids play and laugh as they eat fatty bits of chicken and potato. While mommies talk about 200 miles a minute…heaven!

I also threw a playlist together for running (which I am so excited to start using) when Michael came home early…at 4:30! I was super shocked! (Happy Valentine’s!) We then had a fabulous dinner of baby-back ribs and roasted potatoes and green beans. I got little gifts for everyone and put them on their plates. The highlight of the meal for Megan was using “princess glasses” for our ginger ale (crystal goblets). She is all about the princess. I love the shinny heart table cloth my Mom made. It was fun being a little fancy for dinner; and isn’t that what Valentine’s is all about?

personality test

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I found links to this personality test on Amy’s site and thought it was a fun diversion. Actually, a lot of the profile fit me very well. I am a ENFJ. Take it and see what you think:

This is the test:
http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp.

This is the description of the different types:
http://www.personalitypage.com/portraits.html

If you take the test, make sure to post your type in the comments. I am very curious! (Which makes sense for an ENFJ, I guess. ;-D) Thanks for the test, Amy! You are coming up with insightful things.

last minute valentines

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outside of valentineIf you are like me, you probably don’t have Valentine’s yet. (But you do have a desire to make something home-made and adorable, right?) Well, here are a couple of ideas for something super quick and easy, but impressively cute. For a ton of other ideas (50 to be precise, check out Family Fun’s ideas. Which is were I got this first one from.)

Magic Message

Materials:

Construction paper (other types will work too, but you want color or prints. You’ll want 2 colors per card)

Scissors

Tape or glue

Directions:

1. Cut both pieces of paper into a square and accordion fold it to have 4 panels. (It shouldprying open the center pf valentine make an “W” shape from the side.)

2. Open the paper up so that you have a mountain in the center and make 3 cuts (2-3 inches apart) down the center to the fold lines.

3. Cut your other piece of paper into 4 strips. Weave 2 of these strips into the center panels of your card.

4. (This is where it is a little tricky:) Position your paper so that it is in a W shape again. Now pull the two middle panels of on color in opposite directions. The mountain part will open up like a book; smooth these 2 panels down to make the outside of the card.

5. Cut out 2 hearts (or other shapes) and glue or tape onto the bottom 2 panels (these are the ones that are not woven.) Now, when you pull on the hearts, your card will flip open to reveal the inside.

6. Write a message on the outside and then pull open and write the rest. (We said “Valentine, you make me… flip!” and “Valentine, I have to say you are… the best!” Anything will work.)open valentine

* On Megan’s we choose to use 1 color and a white page which she drew on (but color on both sides, because they will both show.)

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Bee Mine

Materials:outside of valentine

Paper

Scissors

Markers

Paint

Directions:

1. It may be helpful to cut your paper into a square, but it is not necessary. Fold up the two bottom corners to meet in the center. (This will make a “T” shape with the sides coming to a point.)

2. Fold this in half and round off the top to make a heart shape once unfolded.

3. Now decorate the front and address it with your Valentine’s name.

4. Open the door-like flaps and draw a bee on the inside. (I used paint to make the color pop.) Then write “Mine” next to it and sign. (Of course, this could be done with other messages.)

Inside of valentine

you didn’t want any personal posts…right?

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I didn’t think so. Yea, there is really nothing worth talking about going on right now. I am reliving my (somewhat broken record) trauma of kids who don’t sleep. For some reason, Emily has decided that she doesn’t need to be a good sleeper anymore. Honestly, I am sick of hearing myself complain about this though. It is starting to show with the girls, though. The crankiness factor has gone way up at our house. This morning was a a fabulous example of what happens when you reach red level.kid terror alert levels Michael had to work last night. (That’s right, there is an army of geeks maintaining the world’s systems while you sleep. It’s a thankless job.) Anyway, he stayed home from work to get some sleep. Like the great little mom that I am, (hold the laughs) I got the girls ready and headed off to church. Megan also slept in as she had been up half a dozen times on Saturday night.

Needless to say, she wasn’t exactly chipper this morning. When we pulled up outside of our building, she started to cry “I want to go to the white church!” (Which is our stake building that we went to last week.) I tried to get her up the sidewalk as she screamed hysterically. (A smart person probably would have turned around and went home; but I am obviously not very smart.) Outside the door, I got her calmed down a little and tried for the next level–going inside. This didn’t go well either. So we sat in the lobby for about 5 minutes while she screamed. (Think of it as performance art for our ward: frazzled mom holds 1 year old and 2 bags while trying to reason with screaming 3 year.) Opening hymn and prayer later, she has stopped crying and we head into the (now full chapel.) Only to resume the show during a (very quiet) baby blessing. As people start to stare, I realize my frantically whispered placations are no good. We have to go out. But she is thrashing around at this point; so how do I get her and Emily out? Seconds are ticking by, finally I just go with her, leaving my darling baby alone (bad mom!) Luckily cute Liz was there to save her.

Yea, we did calm down eventually. (I went right back for Emily, leaving Megan alone in the Relief Society room–still bad!) Megan was actually pretty good for the rest of the day…hopefully this was the proverbial rock bottom for us. I am optimistically hoping for some good sleep tonight. To any readers in my ward, I apologize for the noise.

make your own lion dance costume

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lion dancingHere is my version of the wonderful lion dance costume that is used in several of the Chinese celebrations. They are believed to bring luck. This one is a little time consuming and is for older artists, I would recommend above age 8. Keep in mind that your own creativity is key here. Use any material that takes your fancy, don’t feel that you have to follow my pattern too closely!

Materials:

paper plate (I recommend on of the heavier paper ones with a lip)

paint

crepe and/or tissue paper

construction paper

scissors

glue and/or tape (I used both)

embellishments (I used feathers, sequins, and pom-poms)

Directions:profile of lion

1. Paint your paper plate (I chose orange for the head color and black for the inside of the mouth.) After it is dry, fold it in half.

2. Cut lengths of crepe paper for the beard and mane. For the mane, I left the strips whole (I used 9 strips); but for the beard (I used 2 strips per side and 4 for the center), I folded each strip in half, then rolled it around my hand and then cut up almost to the fold 4 times (to make smaller strips.) Tape them on underneath the center of the mouth and sides tape the mane to the center of the back (folded part of the paper plate) also on the bottom.

3. Take a piece of tissue paper and fold it 4 times length-wise so that it is very long and skinny. Then fold in half width-wise. Cut a few designs (but don’t cut off all of the edge. I cut out a few shallow arcs; which I was able to use to make “fire” for the nostrils.) Unfold the tissue paper and loosely gather it at one of the shorter ends. This will be the “body,” tape it underneath where the mane is. (I used plenty of tape here.)

4. Fold up a piece of construction paper several times to create a stiff strip about 1″ wide. Fold it into a U shape to make a handle. Leave tabs on each side and glue or tape them to the center of the bottom of the head.

5. You could cut out a piece of red cardstock to make a tongue. I wadded up a piece of tissue paper to give it a little more texture. Then I glued it down in several places; shaping it to look like a tongue.lion’s mouth

6. I cut a 3″ by 4.5″ strip of cardstock and folded it in half and creased it really well. Then tapped it to the center of the top of the head to form a nose. (Cut a small strip of tape and tape the center down; then tape the sides down as well. I pulled the back part of the nose in a little to make the “nostrils” flare.

7. Next, I cut arcs about the same dimension as the nose piece and rolled them into loose cones. Then I glued a few feathers onto the top edges and taped them down on each side of the nose. Then I glued a white pom-pom in the center; and a sequin in the center of the pom-pom.

top of lion’s head8. I took a 3″ strip of tape, and put several of the cut-outs from the tissue paper body on the edge of the tape. Then I rolled the tape up to make a sort of a blossom. Then taped each blossom into each nostril.

9. Finally, I glued a few feathers on top of the “upper lip.” Now your ready to dance!

bottom of lion’s head

paper lanterns for chinese new year

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second way that you can roll your lanternMake several of these to decorate for your New Year’s feast. They are quick and easy and do not actually light up. They are perfect for smaller artists with help and can be easily done by first graders up alone.

Materials:

Construction paper (1 per lantern)

Tape

Scissors

(Paint. markers, or crayons)

Directions:

1. (If you’d like) draw a picture on your piece of paper.

2. Fold the paper in half length-wise (so that it is long and skinny), Then fold each of the ends back toward the middle so that the size is halved again.(If you look at the end it makes an M shape.)

3. Cut 1 inch slits starting from the folded side of the paper. (Stop about an 1 inch from the top.)

first set of cuts on lanternsecond set of cuts on lantern

4. Open up the paper so that it is folded in half and cut each slit the rest of the way through. (Your paper

first way you can roll your lantern

should have slits running all the way from the top (minus an inch) to the bottom (minus an inch.) It should still be completely connected.

5. With the paper completely open, bring the 2 sides together to make a tube. Depending on which side you put out, it will make one of these 2 designs. Secure the seam with tape.

6. Cut a strip and tape each end inside the top of the tube to make a handle. I tried braiding some crepe paper for the handle.

chinese new year

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red envelopesThis is such a fun holiday and noted as the most important for many Asian cultures. The Chinese calendar is lunar, so Chinese New year falls on a different day somewhere between the end of January and February every year. This year it is on Thursday the 6th. Why not celebrate with your family? After all, this holiday is all about family–spending time with those around and honoring those who have gone before. It is a complex 15 day celebration with many traditions and lots of symbolism. (i.e. this is just a brief and limited overview. Check here for more info.) Celebrating Chinese New Year by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith or The Dancing Dragon by Marcia K. Vaughan are a couple of books you can check out to read with your child.

Chinese myth tells of a dragon, the Nián who came from either the mountains or the sea (depending on region) to eat men (yikes!) once a year. The people decorate with lots of red and use lanterns and fireworks to scare the Nian away. There are also several flowers that are used with different symbolic meanings. Bowls of tangerines (symbolic of good luck) and oranges (represent wealth) are also very common.

People spend the weeks before New Years getting ready, by buying new clothes and getting a hair cut for the celebrations. They also clean their house, sweeping away the old (literally) to prepare for the new. (However, you must put your broom away for the new year so that you don’t sweep out all of your good luck!) One of the most important customs is a special feast that is also very symbolic. You can get several good recipes here.

After the feast, people visit the temple or hold a party to countdown to the New Year. The first day of the new year is spent visiting family, and especially the senior members, like grandparents. Older andlion dancers married members of the family give the youth red envelopes (which contain money) and celebrate with fireworks and lion dancers.

(I will post directions to make a lantern and your own dancing lion tomorrow.)

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