Friday, January 30, 2015

Pine Wood Derby

Last weekend was the much anticipated Pinewood Derby. It's pretty much the best part of cub scouts. Building a car with your dad and Grandpa, using real tools. It's a kids dream. My husband always did pretty well as a kid because his dad is a natural with cars. The hubby couldn't wait to help Gandalf make his own car. Last year Gandalf got 1st place and was pretty stoked. Naturally he was looking forward to his 2nd race as a cub scout.

Gandalf with his car The Black Falcon and the neat stand our Weblos made for each cub scout.

We were able to get our car before Christmas so we could work on it with Papa who happens to have a great shop filled with fun tools. (If you are in Orange County in Southern California and need your car taken care of by an honest mechanic check out Glenn's.) Unfortunately my in laws were sick and Gandalf's car wasn't finished in California. My hubby and Gandalf finished up his car when we got home. Gandalf loved it! He wanted a Falcon because they are known for being fast. Using my Cameo Silhouette I was able to make Falcon for his car. He loved how the gold sparkled in the sun.

Cheering for brother! Myself with my awesome co-leaders.

As we approached the race I took time to prep my son on a couple things. 

It was important for him to realize just because his car was really fast last year and took first place it might not win this year. In our new pack we have twice as many boys. Numbers wise (which he totally gets) it's going to be more competitive. Sometimes processing things can be hard for my son and I didn't want him to be too disappointed if he didn't win.
Pinewood Derby last year
We went over if he does win how important it is that we are humble. Saying "That was easy" or "I knew I would win!" isn't being a good racer. My son is blessed to have a dad who loves to research how to make a car fast and loves spending time with him. It was hard to make that time as my hubby is working so much and going back to school right now. So this was a great excuse to have some one on one time. 

The Black Falcon winning a race...

Like everything in cub scouts our motto is "Do Your Best!" We should strive to do our best. And competition can be fun. But we shouldn't compare ourselves to others. It's great to be proud with how your car turned out. But saying your car is better than others is being prideful. And that's not what we are about. So do your best. And be proud of yourself. Being proud, but not prideful is important. And when we do our best we feel good about ourselves even if we aren't the best.

This is a great opportunity to make new friends. Cheer for your friends! Give the other racers compliments on their cars. Notice their great paint job or fun car name.

One of my favorite pictures!
As a wolf leader I had to work the races as they keep them pretty fast paced. I really only saw his car race 2 or 3 times. I knew it was doing pretty well, but I knew we had some pretty fast cars this year.

My favorite part of the race was seeing our family support Gandalf and his car. Draco is such a great brother. He cheered passionately the whole time. They had a little table where siblings could make pendents with paper, tape, and plastic straws to wave. We did miss having Grandparents there. Ginger wore black and gold to support her brother's car. And Yoda waited to the end to fall asleep.

This great boy didn't place this year but I am so proud of him! He handled it so well. He was thrilled with his award "Fastest Flying Car" and thought it was funny. And he loved the candies in the mini trophy cup. He did a great job complimenting the boys who did place. He was a great sport. Even when his little brother asked him what place he got. Draco didn't understand and continued to ask, "What do you mean you didn't get a place? How come?" He simply told him he didn't win.

We celebrated a fun race with ice cream and playing Legos. And we are looking forward to the next 7 years of pinewood derby races. Yoda already knows he wants to call his car the "Cheetah of Death". Thankful for the race we won and the won we didn't. Gandalf is already planning new ideas to win next year. 

I made our Pit Passes from this great site. Check out their blog for more ideas!

Monday, January 26, 2015

New Gallery Wall

I'm so excited and happy to finally have pictures in my front room. Pictures make my heart happy! Especially pictures taken by my favorite photographer Shari Hanson.She has been taking our photos since 2008 which means I have a nice selection from her through the years. All the pictures shown are her work.

It's always hard for me to know what pictures to keep up and which ones to switch out. I love the one from Gandalf's baptism and I cant imagine not having that one up. Maybe when he turns twelve and gets the priesthood. Or maybe his mission picture might replace it. My good friend Julie (I have like at least 5 amazing friends named Julie) taught be you can't just decorate with all pictures. You need a variety of textures and a variety of types of decor. It made me a little sad, but I do love the look it gives. She actually gave me those cute bird plates on the top. I have been trying to the past 5 years to add variety to my walls and shelves. 

family time is the funnest!

I also chose different prints form our 2012 family shoot with Shari because I planned our photo color schme around the yellow in my home. And I love the large family print even though it doesn't have baby girl because it's such a great shot.  It shows our family un-posed. Shari told everyone to tickle each other in this shot. I thought we were just suppose to tickle the kids. 

The large black and white photo of Hubby and I kissing is from 2008. I love the brick and wood and denim in this black and white picture.  Shari chooses such fun places to shoot. We told her we were up for anything. This shot is from an alley in Huntington Beach beside a dumpster. The image above is in Balboa. Plus this picture of us is good for my kids to grow up with pictures of mom and dad kissing.

I am more in love with him than ever!

I was really excited to get this side table for only $3!!! After a little grey chalk paint it looks so great next to my favorite chair. My dear friend Wayne gave me this amazing yellow chair in 2008. It's gorgeous and one of my favorite pieces. (He has also given me two dressers that my kids use in their bedroom. He has great taste. We worked together in Orange County and he does amazing hair if you are looking for a stylist check him out here) I love the books I was able to find and my little succulents that I hopefully won't kill.

This dresser I received from a dear friend Omera in 2012. It was outside and getting thrashed and I tried to persuaded my friend who is a bit older than me to bring it in. She told me she has been trying to get rid of that old thing. I told her I would take it off her hands if her grandson who was living with her didn't want it. He didn't. And even said he would bring it over to my house (which my husband loved). I painted it yellow because it's a happy cheerful color. I love this piece. And even more because it's from my dear friend. I am always uplifted when I spend time with her.   

This gorgeous wall piece came from my husband's grandmother. She was a lover of all things gold leafed. I didn't think she would mind the color change but I took a photo so we could remember her and her style. She wasn't able to meet my kids in this life, but I am sure she is watching over them now. My mother in law was happy to pass it on to me. My husband was a bit bummed when I brought it home, but I know he loves having something of hers in our home.

I replaces some pictures of baby Gandalf to make room for the baby girl. I decided to make them black and white.  Below is an image from Baby girls 1st birthday shoot. Baby girl loves this picture of her kissing Grandma Tang's puppy. She loves dogs! When she sees this picture it makes her happy.

Baby girl with Grandma's puppy
Baby Girl's blessing day
I love this picture of baby girl's blessing day. I made her dress from the leftover material from my wedding dress. I was so happy to get a picture with my Grandmother, my mom, and my sister. Baby girl loves this picture because she loves these women in her life and she loves babies. She hasn't registered that it is her yet. 

Newborn shoot with Shari
I couldn't wait to get newborn shots of my baby girl. Shari was so patient with baby girl, who took forever to fall asleep. 

I love how clean and cheerful our place looks now. You can see it bare here.

Right in our entry way was the perfect place to put our Christmas cards. It's about time I take them down and put them in albums. I can't stand the idea of throwing away pictures. I love looking back on how my friends kids and my nieces and nephews have changed. I still need to put up a new family picture over my yellow dresser. For my Harry Potter closet makeover you can click here.

This frame use to be burgundy. I painted it white thanks to my friend Shari. She was so great when I texted her late at night to give me a second opinion on my layout. I love this saying "No empty chairs". I heard it while I was in my youth and it has really stuck with me. 

"God intended the family to be eternal. With all my soul, I testify to the truth of that declaration. May He bless us to strengthen our homes and the lives of each family member so that in due time we can report to our Heavenly Father in His celestial home that we are all there—father, mother, sister, brother, all who hold each other dear. Each chair is filled. We are all back home.”
The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (1988), 493

I love the idea of wanting every member of our family to be together in Heaven. And the idea that we are all in this together. I am trying to teach my children that my greatest desire is for us to be a family forever. That is why we have family prayers, read the scriptures, and honor the Sabbath day. Because I want to help bring my children unto Christ. I want them to become more converted, as I too need to continually strive to follow my Savior.

Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. 

I love this reminder for our family about what is most important on this earth. Our faith, our testimony, and our family. My children know how crucial it is they get married in the temple. We believe in eternal marriage and families. And when you are married in a temple you aren't married "till death do you part". You are married for time and all eternity. I know as we strive to improve our families and teach them from the scriptures our lives will be blessed. I know as we show our family they are important to us by our words and actions it will bring us closer together.

I love how cheerful and clean it looks here. You can see pictures of our home here before I hung up frames. I do need to get some storage boxes for the Ikea piece I scored for free on a Monday treasure hunt. It will be perfect for holding shoes. You can find a USA Map Tutorial here. Below you can see my chalkboard frame that I made from a garage sale find. I love reusing things and making them better. Right now we have a scripture that we are trying to memorize as a family. You can see the before for the frame here.

Thanks for checking out my new Gallery Wall! I love how a little spray paint and new pictures can make a place feel so new. Happy Monday!!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

USA Map Art Tutorial

I saw this darling USA map at a cute boutique. I loved it! But I didn't love the price. Today I'll share how I made my new USA Map Art. I started with a cute frame I had painted a couple years ago. I had glued on cute flowers. I really like this frame how it is. And  I liked the idea of adding pictures or other items with the clothes pins but I wasn't utilizing this feature.

Old frame
Wood pieces. Use your frame for the measurements. Plus you going to want enforcing      pieces for the back.
Wood Glue
Cameo Silhouette 
Paint and Brushes
I scored some free slats of wood on one of my favorite Monday Adventures. Turning my frame over I measured the cuts I would need to make for the slats fit in my frame. You can use pallet wood, spare wood, or buy some fairly thin pieces at Lowe's or Home Depot. 

My wood didn't fit in perfectly so I had to cut one piece horizontally. I just used my hubby's basic hand saw. It's all we have for right now. My edges aren't perfect but you can't tell when you put it in the frame.

Here I am gluing my wood slats together. Next I will add the extra pieces to keep them together.

Next I glued each wood slat to each other, using my finger to wipe the excess off. I then used extra pieces to hold it together. Put your wood in your frame horizontally and then glue extra wood slates vertically, one on each side. Turn it over and put a whole bunch of heavy books on it to help stay together.

Using awesome books helps the process speed up

After a couple of hours you are ready to paint. I did apply a little bit of stain to my wood. Then after that dried I used my Cameo Silhouette. Using vinyl make a USA map stencil. (Sorry Alaska and Hawaii) Carefully paint inside your stencil. You can then paint on two hearts or how ever many places your heart has been.  I love how this piece of art reminds me of my home in Southern California. We are loving Arizona, but I don't want to forget where we came from. Or our amazing loved ones there. My boys were pretty excited because they love maps. Although my oldest boy likes a little more detail in his.

I hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial. Luckily the depth of my project fit in perfectly. You could add a bracket on the back if you need to and adhere the frame on.  Or you could  have the exposed wood shown and not frame it. It is really up to you. Keep your eyes open for some free wood. And I can't wait to show you my gallery wall next week. I finally got pictures on my wall in my entry room. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Favorite Monday

My favorite Monday of the month is the first Monday.

I drop off my two oldest boys at school. Then Yoda, baby girl, and I drive around looking for treasures. It's kinda like Christmas. The first Monday of the month you can put out items to be picked up by our city. And people throw away perfectly wonderful things.

I love it!!!

We drive around looking for something we might need. I try to be follow the Spirit. When I find something I'll get out and Yoda will yell and ask me what we found. I lower the back seats (another reason I am glad the boys are gone) and we load up with our treasures. I love teaching my kids that we can re-make or fix something up. It drives my husband crazy but he was happy about this find.

Last month I found this great bookcase. It needed some minor repairs and a new paint job, but look how pretty she is now!!! I decided to paint her white. A little simple, but that's okay. And I knew just where I wanted to put her.

This is our Harry Potter closet. We told Yoda it was his room when we first moved to our new home. It's a pretty good sized closet. He was kinda bummed when he found out we were joking. Our layout is naturally different from our old house and we didn't really have a place to put our DVDs because we were using furniture differently as well. I have kept them in boxes in our HP closet along with tons of other things. It's kinda our downstairs catch all. I took everything out and reorganized. I asked myself if each object really needed to be in there. Some items were better placed in our garage or my upstairs closet. 

Our new bookcase was perfect for our DVDs. When things have a home it's so much easier to put them away. I also used baskets to organize and I have a large bag on a hanger holding smaller bags. It looks so much better. You can actually walk inside it now. 

I am so thankful for my new bookcase. It's real wood and real lovely. January is the perfect time to clean our closets. I really need to tack the upstairs linen one soon. 

Can't wait to see what I can find on the next garage day Monday!!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King Jr. Traditions

Like most of you I have tried to teach my children about Dr Martin Luther King Jr. When Gandalf was a young boy we got this book.

It was a cute simple book that taught we about Martin Luther King Jr. And we were able to read throughout the year at story time. But as they have gotten older we have tried to have more in depth talks about the importance of treating everyone with kindness. The importance of remembering that we are all spirit brothers and sisters. 

I am so thankful that schools have added to these lessons at home. Last week we were reading the book Amelia to Zora: 26 Women who Changed the World when Draco told me Rosa Parks should be on the "R" page. He then went on to tell me all about her and her story. Including great facial expressions to show his shock that such things really happened. I am sure he thought I didn't know any of this. I love that my children are learning about great leaders while at school.

But as my children have gotten older I have wanted to do even more at home for this holiday. If we get to enjoy a day off from school we should set aside time to learn why. Last year my girlfriend Edie who has older children and a heart of gold let me borrow a book that was perfect for my grade school children.( In addition to being a great friend she is also an awesome wife and mother and writes for the city of Newport Beach. You can read her latest article here. I am always edified when I read what she writes)  It was a perfect book. The illustrations were wonderful and my children were able to get a better understanding of Martin Luther King's story. And I found this printable from Pinterest. (I now follow her on Facebook and love her blog 30 Handmade Days. You should check her out.) Her printable helped my kids to have an outlet to reflect on Dr. King's dream and to have some of their own. Side note: some of their dreams were quite simple and not at all related to Martin Luther King's. But baby steps. 

Check out this great book. Link above.

But when we went to the library last  week all the books on Dr. King were checked out. Clearly we need to invest in some new books for our family library. Sunday night my husband found a You Tube video that we watched and talked about as a family.

This morning we gathered after breakfast to listen to Dr King's full speech (Find it here) and fill out our printable for this year. (I did have to tell my children to leave their Nerf guns and swords (sword of the Spirit) on the stairs because maybe we should keep our weapons out of our reach while we listen to a speech on peace.) It was a great experience to read the speech out loud as a family. I then asked my kids to tell me what parts stood out to them.

Gandalf liked the part about every mole hill ringing out "Let freedom Ring" because that meant even the small parts and things wanted freedom. 

Draco liked the part at the end "Free at Last" from the song. We then looked up the great Negro Spiritual "Free at Last!" so we could better understand the song. I have been wanting to make a playlist of Negro Spirituals for my heart loves them so. I love when my husband sings them for choir. When Yoda was 3 he would sing "Hole in that rock" all the time and I loved it.  This new playlist will be perfect for Sundays. 

Yoda replied "What Gandalf said". His young mind had a hard time understanding what we were taking about. 

Baby Girl coloring like her brothers
Draco filling out his printable

This will become our new tradition. And make a perfect family night. Reading his speech and talking as a family. Of course I cried. And it's a perfect time to share our testimony that we are all spirit brothers and sisters. The perfect time to discuss Christlike characteristics that Dr. King had and that we should all strive towards. I am so thankful for Dr. King's courage. His courage to stand up for what is right. And his courage to take the higher road and rise above hate and bitterness. To have the pure love of Christ. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

January Traditons

I love traditions!

One tradition I started in 2011 is to interview each of my children around New Years Day. I found some questions listed some where and made a word document. I have read that birthdays are a great time to do this, but for my family New Years is ideal. I can do it New Years Eve or day. And I get them all done at once. Birthdays are so busy for us and I would be bummed if I forgot one of my kids. And for some reason I am pretty good at remembering to do this at the beginning of the year.

My kids love the one on one time. I take them in my room and lock the door to avoid interruptions. And I started video taping them as well because I don't want to miss anything and I wanted to record their expressions. After all the kids are done we gather as a family and read everyone's answers. Usually a lot of giggling is involved. Sometimes younger kids don't really understand the questions. But it is so fun to see their progression. I usually wait till they are really talking to interview them. Maybe next year for baby girl. (I am not sure where I acquired this list or if I even added my own questions. If you know the source please let me know)

A conversation with:
My favorite food:
My favorite sport
My favorite book
Coolest person on the earth
Favorite thing to learn about in school
The thing I do the most awesomely is
If I could go anywhere in the world, I would go
My favorite color is
When I grow up I am going to be a
My favorite song is
The book I am reading right now
Three words to describe me are
When I was little I use to
My favorite season of the year is
The best thing about vacation is
The snack I like best is
 One food I really dislike is
My best friend is
If I had one wish it would be
My best memory is
Favorite thing about my family
My goal for this next year is

Something that makes me happy is

At the end I ask them if they want to bare their testimony. This year we went back and re-read all their answers throughout the years.  I love this tradition and seeing how much they change. Or stay the same. And I love that they can make goals. Draco really wants to beat Gandalf at chess this year. One of these years he is going to.

It's not too late to grab a journal or some paper and ask away. Your child will love the one on one time and you will treasure capturing their answers. (I have a special box where I keep all treasure like this.) Use the questions I have or make your own. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Great News at School

My oldest boy Gandalf has so many great qualities. One of them that I admire is his willingness to put himself out there. I think it was last year he expressed interest in student government. He ran for a position and it didn't work out. I was proud of him for giving it a try. I would have never desired to run for anything that would require voting. I was super shy as a child. Trying out for something would be too intimidating for me as well.

And it's wonderful as a parent to see awesome qualities that they have that you know did not come from you as we see our children as their own person with their own spirit and qualities.

So Monday after school Gandalf gives me a permission slip about student government. I told him I was all for it, as long as he worked hard on his homework. He promised he would. Later I gave him the form signed and told him to put it in his backpack. I later found it on the ground outside his car and instructions were repeated. His short term memory isn't the best. (Long term memory:amazing!)

I was really proud of him for wanting to do this. But part of me felt like John Travolta's character in Hairspray when his daughter wanted to try out for Corny Collins show. I was nervous about him not making it and possibly being frustrated and not being about to process that in a "normal" way. Or getting his feelings hurt.Sometimes other kids don't understand why frustrations can bother him when it's no big deal to them.  I kept these things to myself because I don't want him to ever think he can't do something. But I worried a little bit.

The next morning I double checked verbally that his form was in his backpack. He verified. Then I wished him luck with the voting process. That's when he told me he had already won.

I couldn't believe it! I was so happy. It has been hard making new friends since we moved to Arizona. And making friends and having Asperger's is even harder. I was so proud that he put himself out there and ran for class representative. I wanted more information but we were at the drop off area and I needed to move. I texted my sweetheart and we both couldn't wait for a chance to talk to him.

When he came home I asked him why he didn't tell me the great news. He said he thought the letter and form explained it. (The letter just said my child show interest in student government and listed the meeting days and times) I could tell he felt good about himself. My hubby asked how many others ran against him. There was about 10. Gandalf, along with a girl from his class, will take ideas from his class to the student council. He will have meetings after school and an end of the year party. He wants to run for Vice President next year. I told him serving with the council will give him great experience. He told us he was the only one who gave a speech. It was his idea and he asked if he could. Gandalf said that since they are learning about pros and cons in class he listed several pros if he was elected.

My heart is so full that he will be able to have an opportunity to  make new friends and have his self confidence grow. I am so glad he had courage to run for office. I know that he is proud of himself. Changing schools and moving is hard. I know there are lots of social challenges he has and there are still hard times ahead.  I can only do so much as his mom.But I am grateful for the tender mercies from our Heavenly Father.