Saturday, August 13, 2011

Busy Creating, Giving, and Learning: Paper Cranes

While packing up my stuff at my parent's house, I came across this:
I made it after Maeve was born.  If you keep up with this blog, I had mentioned in a post a while ago, after the earthquake in Northern Japan, that I wanted to make paper cranes with my kids.  I bought the book, Sadako and the 1,000 Paper Cranes, and we read it together each day at lunch.
In the back of the book were instructions how to fold a paper crane.  I sat down one day, and made each step and mounted it to a piece of white poster board to help the kids visualize the steps easier.  There are many tutorials on the web, some better than others, I tried a few unsuccessfully, but the ones in the book were easy to follow.

Here's a close up of the pieces, I just don't have the time right now to do a step by step, but you can get the general idea.  Unfortunately, since I just love colors, my origami paper was a rainbow pack, so each piece could not be the same color, but I tried to go in color family order:

My plan is that once I'm in my new house, I will hang this on the wall and have the kids help me fill a box full of paper cranes to send to Northern Japan.  I plan to attach messages to them too.

This is a great way to teach the kids fine motor skills, creativity, patience, and giving.  This is a skill that all children in japanese schools learn.  When visiting historical places in Japan, or attending festivals, we encountered many groups of school kids wanting to practice their English on us.  In exchange for the conversation, even a simple "Hello", we would be given an origami as a thank you.  Oftentimes, the kids' backpacks were full of origami creations!

The cranes are a symbol of peace and hope.  The first time one of our visitors went to Hiroshima, the site of the first atomic bombing in Japan by the US, he came back with a backpack FULL of paper cranes!  I never made it to Hiroshima, but here are some pictures Dave took on a trip there- there are just cases and cases of them:
Here are some pictures of paper cranes I took in Nagasaki, the site of the second bombing.  It is incredible how many there are.  I don't know how to make the chain, but it is beautiful to see.

Even at the airport on our trip home when moving, the woman at the check in counter saw that it was Addison's birthday and the next thing you know, they had made him all these origami stars and smiley faces for a present, it was amazing.

I am planning on making a mobile of pink, green, and red paper cranes for Maeve's room, I think she will really enjoy looking at them, don't you?  As soon as I find my origami paper, I'm going to start it.  I think it will be nice for her to have in her room a small part of Japan, since she never got to live there.  Pictures to follow when it's done.

We have in our shipment many more books of origami that we purchased while living in Japan.  I hope to put up more pictures of fun things my kids and I make together.  Maybe we will carry on the tradition of giving origami to strangers we meet to brighten their days.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Busy Playing: Family Games- Scrabble

It all started when I had Maeve- my husband got me an iphone a week later and I downloaded "Words with Friends" to play during her late night feedings.  During the day when an opponent would make a move against me, the phone would ding and my kids would jump up excitedly and grab the phone for me.  They were always watching me play, trying to get me to use their word suggestions.  When my husband left to go back to work and we weren't going to see him for a month, I decided to let each of the older boys start one game against him. This was a great way for them to interact with him daily since they wouldn't be seeing him for a while.  Well, the next thing I knew, they were playing against all three of my brothers, my dad, my sister-in-law, and several of my friends.  In fact, they had so many games going, when one of mine ended, I couldn't start a new one.
It is hard for me to complain about my kids monopolizing the game on my phone because they are reading, writing, thinking, calculating, and just plain having fun! When someone plays a word against them, they remember the word to play another time.  Example:  qi, the only 2 letter q word and it can make you a lot of points when played in the right spot.  We've looked several of the words up in the dictionary so they know what they mean.  
The other day, Nathaniel rattled off his letters to me and asked me what word he should play, I said "ninth", then from the way back of our car, Addison shouts, "Mom that's only nine points!"  OK- WHOA, he couldn't even see the phone from where he was- yes, my son has played so much he has memorized the point values of the letters and now can calculate in his head (not bad for an almost first grader).  

We also downloaded "Hanging with Friends", it's basically hangman for your iphone.  These two games are going to be a great way for my kids to communicate with their uncles, aunts, and grampa when we move 1,000 miles away in two weeks.  How fun is it to be able to play a game with your family and friends everyday even when you are so far away?

This week, I've been occupied packing, so two mornings I told the kids to get out Scrabble and play it.  How antiquated of me- no computer to do it for them.  They had to add up their own points and then verify with me if their word was real or not.  Even Owen, the almost kindergardener was playing.  Nathaniel would spell him the words and he would find the letters and place them where they belonged. Sometimes Owen just takes the board out on his own and lines up the letters and says them to me as he goes along.  
This is fun for everyone.  Maybe not everyone can make a real word (ages 3 and 5)- but they still have fun and when they do make a word, you could not wipe the smile off their face! I would much rather hear my kids fighting over whether a word is real or not or how many points it is versus over whose toy is whose or what show to watch.

How many words can you find in here?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Busy Sewing and Playing: Baby blankets

I've been busy packing lately, so I haven't had time for a whole lot of stuff otherwise.  I figured I'd take the time to show off some blankets I've made that my baby really loves!  Like I've said before, "babies LOVE colors"!  Since most of our baby gear and toys are in our shipments, Maeve has been spending a LOT of time with these two blankets, and guess what?:  she loves them loves them loves them.  She can lay on her tummy for hours and stare at the pretty colors (with no toys at all).

This is a blanket I made for my parent's to keep on their couch (I'm kind of thinking about stealing it back - it's her absolute favorite):
This is a blanket I made when I had Owen, there are two, this one and it's counterpart (which is in our shipment):
Can you even stand the cuteness?

Next time you need a baby blanket, divert from the traditional pastels and go for something bright and exciting- baby won't be disappointed.

Pst:  When I get into my house and possibly get a new machine, I might be making a few for sale on etsy.  Stay tuned.