Browsing Category: kids stuff

Free Printables: Star Wars Themed Birthday Party

February is a short, crazy month in the jkwdesigns household. Now that my big boys are in school, I have Valentine’s Day crafts, 100th day of school crafts, and the birthdays of all 3 of my children to celebrate. All within a week of each other. 🙁 I feel like I’m juggling 30 crystal wine glasses while doing the river dance.

When my boys asked begged me for a bowling party, I have to admit that I was a little sad. As a party planner, I had grand plans for a Jedi Academy themed party, complete with Jedi robes, lightsabers, training course and certificates of completion. Two minutes later, I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief because I wouldn’t have to worry about prepping all the activities and planning the menu. Feeling about 10 lbs lighter, I vowed to throw all my efforts into the invitations and party favors and got started.

And here’s what happened!

INVITATIONS HOW-TO:

Inspired by other lightsaber invitations I saw on Pinterest, but absolutely unwilling to cut out individual lightsaber pieces and construct, I decided to go with a more realistic approach. Plus, hunting down card stock in various colors here in Seoul seemed like a waste of time. (I really, really miss Michael’s and AC Moore!) I did some research on lightsaber hilts and found that Yoda’s lightsaber would work best. It’s fairly uniform in width from top to bottom, so it would provide the width I needed to be able to slide a blue or green ray of light/paper in and out of the hilt. Using an image of Yoda’s lightsaber hilt, I adjusted the size to widen it without making it look disproportionate.

Lightsaber Invitations

Materials:
Card stock in white to print lightsaber hilts
Card stock in color of lightsaber blade
Printer
Scissors
Sookwang double sided tape (1/4 inch wide)

The lightsaber hilts are approximately 2 inches across, which leaves about 1.5 inches to work with on the inside once the pockets are constructed.

You can download the PDF file containing the adjusted lightsaber hilts (3 per page) here: Lightsaber Invitation

Print on card stock and cut the lightsabers out. You will also need to create a stencil of the cut piece in order to create the “pocket.” If you’re handy with the Silhouette cutter, then you could easily import the image and have your Silhouette do all the cutting for you.

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The most tedious part of the invitation is creating the pockets for the blade. I used Sookwang tape or Scor-Tape, which is an amazing double-sided adhesive. I placed the adhesive along the edges of the lightsaber hilt (approx. 1/8 inch) and cut the excess adhesive off. This allowed me to make the pocket as wide as possible since I had very little room to work with.

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For the blade portion of the invitation, I designed a long, narrow invitation strip and printed half in blue and half in green (because I have twins who insist). And the result was an absolute hit. The kids–mine and the recipients–were thrilled with the invitations, and many of them went so far as to bring their lightsaber invitations to the party.

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FOOD:

Our local bowling alley is all set up for parties; however, as part of the party package, the only food that you’re allowed to bring in is a birthday cake. Everything else must be purchased from the bowling alley. And the options are very limited. As in what toppings would you like on your pizza limited. So pizza and fruit punch it is.

ACTIVITIES:

The rental is for a 2 hour party: one hour of bowling followed by one hour of food and cake. We’d been to enough parties at the bowling alley to be familiar with the set-up, and the bowling portion of the party is enough to kids occupied, so there really was no need for planning any other activities.

I did, however, create an activity placemat for the tables, just so it wouldn’t be so bare. It contains a blueprint-type coloring page of the Millennium Falcon and a personalized word search that includes my boys’ names. There are some great word search generators online–here’s one of my favorites from The Teachers Corner.

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DECORATIONS:

It’s no secret that I like simple, bold design, and since this party was for MY kids and not for a client, I was able to go with my very own personal style. Luckily, my boys don’t really have opinions on this sort of thing, and they were just so excited that everything was Star Wars-related that I received no complaints. 😉

So as my design style goes, I stuck with black, white and gray with a splash of yellow. Since I couldn’t bring in my own food, it limited my party styling. I kept the cake table pretty clear because I definitely wanted the cake itself to be the center of attention. The cake was made by an incredibly talented friend of mine who will be in Seoul for the next few months, so if you’re looking for a cake designer, let me know and I’ll pass along her information!

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Almost all of my decorations were made with the help of my trusty Silhouette Cameo. I cut Jedi Order symbol stickers (in white) and applied them to black paper cups. I cut white star stickers and applied them to a black plastic tablecloth which was hung on the wall for the backdrop. I cut additional Jedi Order and Rebel Alliance symbols from black poster board and placed them on the yellow napkins on tables. The “Welcome Young Jedi” sign was also made from sticker letters cut with the Silhouette. Seriously, I love my Silhouette.

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The only other decor item that I designed for the party is the birthday banner, which you can download here for free! This includes the Jedi Order symbols. Just print on card stock, cut, punch holes and string together!

Star Wars Birthday Banner

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PARTY FAVORS:

Since I had decided early on that I was going to put all my efforts into party favors, I knew that I wanted to make personalized t-shirts for my boys’ guests. However, I knew that many of them would be coming with younger siblings. Then, I got to thinking about the people I really wanted to thank for coming, and that was PARENTS! So here’s what went into the party favors:

For the Jedi Masters:

Each of the guests received a personalized t-shirt, which was created using heat transfer paper. I’ve worked with heat transfer paper before in the past, and I don’t love it. The finished product doesn’t typically hold up very well in the wash. The image cracks, and the colors fade. However, on the bright side, if you’re going for a vintage look, it’s perfect! 😉

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For Younglings:

Younger siblings received a glow stick/lightsaber favor, which actually ended up being super popular with ALL OF THE KIDS. Luckily, I had so many glow sticks left over from our Valentine’s Day project that I’d made extras so there were enough glow sticks for everyone.

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You can download the lightsaber cards here: Lightsaber Party Favor Card

For the Jedi Council:

Last, but certainly not least, I made gourmet chocolates for the parents! I had so much fun with this, and I’d actually been preparing to make these for quite some time, experimenting with recipes (particularly the raspberry ganache recipe) until I came up with one I liked. My husband and I ate A LOT of chocolate during the experimenting process. A LOT. But I think the end results were well worth it! And of course, the Darth Vader and Stormtrooper molds were perfect for the dark and white chocolates. The molds are available on Amazon.

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**EDIT 1/28/2016 – The Star Wars chocolate favor tags are available for free here**

May the Force be with you!

 

Disclosure: This post contains links to products on amazon.com. These are products that I purchased and used for my own projects with no compensation. However, if you click on the link and purchase the product, I will receive a small fee from Amazon.com.
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jkwdesigns.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Star Wars Ad

Free Printables: Snack Time = Fun Time!

Happy New Year from Seoul, South Korea! I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post–the past month has been an absolute whirlwind of activity. As a mother of kindergarteners, I have experienced my very first Winter Break, and let me tell you… It wasn’t pretty. My boys were BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS and craved the daily activities, the friends, and the stimulation of school. In the meantime, I was running around like a crazy person trying to make sure that everything was PERFECT for Christmas, mostly because I know that we only have a precious few Christmases before my kids stop believing in the MAGIC of the holidays (see previous post).

So basically, this control-freak, Type-A mom was desperately trying to make sure that EVERY. LITTLE. THING. was in perfect order. By the end of their two-week reprieve from school, I was just about ready to kick them out the door and return to the (relative) calm of our day-to-day routine. Except we had friends come for a 12-day long visit with their incredibly adorable 9 month old baby, which made me even crazier because I was basically smacked in the face with baby fever and the slightly depressing (but also exhilarating) realization that I would never again have a sweet little baby to snuggle and nurse and make completely ridiculous noises and faces at–just for a perfect gummy, toothless grin. My husband commented several times within the first hour of our houseguests’ arrival that I was acting like a crazy person. He only stopped teasing me when he realized what a lunatic he looked like every time he got a hold of the baby. After a few hours of baby time, both the husband and I agreed–thank goodness we’ve both been “fixed” or we’d TOTALLY be talking about having another baby! My youngest would beg to differ though. She was not terribly pleased with mommy’s attention being diverted to the new baby in the house. 😉

Anyway, with all the excitement in the house and the fact that I was pretty much blinded by the baby cuteness, I completely forgot that the boys’ first week back in school was MY WEEK TO PREPARE CLASS SNACKS! I remembered as the kids were leaving for school Monday morning, and since the commissary is closed on Mondays, my options were limited. I sent my husband to the shoppette/liquor store and literally told him, “I don’t care what kind of junk it is. We have to send SOMETHING!” Feeling my crazy-mom panic, he assured me that all would be fine, and he wouldn’t let on to Mrs. S, the boys’ teacher, that I had forgotten.

Since Day 1 consisted of Cheez Its and Rice Krispie Treats (the pre-packaged variety that I will assume absolutely no responsibility for thanks to my husband’s self-sacrifice in the name of marital bliss), I had to step up my game and make up for my failure to deliver fun and nutritious snacks for my children and their classmates because this is the type of thing that only a crazy lady would worry about. Tuesday, I was able to deliver fruit from our local produce market (bananas, apple slices and clementines). Monday is really The Worst Day for the commissary to be closed. 🙁

Since I was (finally) able to get to the store on Tuesday, Wednesday, was more fun for me to put together, and much more fun for the kids to eat! When my boys came home from school, they were super excited to tell me about what a big hit the snacks were and what they built with their grapes, pretzels and cheese sticks! Small cubes of cheese would have worked well too as well as crackers of various sizes and other fruit (blueberries, strawberries, banana slices, oranges, etc.). So here’s a simple little printable to throw in the baggie along with edible “building” supplies!

Let's Build With Food

 

To download a PDF with 8 little cards per sheet, click here: Let’s Build With Food

For Day 4 of my frantic snack-making, I decided on my boys’ all-time favorite treat–S’mores. But without the fire and melted marshmallows, which seasoned s’mores-lovers may balk at, but thankfully, my audience consisted of a bunch of 5 year olds, so no one complained about the lack of dangerous, hot, burning embers in the classroom.

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Delicious make-it-yourself mini s’mores can be made with Teddy Grahams, mini marshmallows and chocolate chip morsels. As my boys would say, “Easy peasy!”

Click here to download the mini s’mores printable: Mini Smores

And finally, to round out my week of snack-making hell fun, I made cheese and veggie muffins. I had originally planned to make these delicious and nutritious muffins for Thursday and give the kiddos the mini s’mores as a Friday/End of Week treat, but I failed to remember (until after the groceries were purchased) that my miserably small Korean oven can only handle one muffin pan at a time, so I needed the extra time to bake 4 dozen muffins. And please excuse my lack of a photo of the muffins. I was too busy taking photos of a certain adorable 9 month old. 😉 But you can take my word for it–they’re pretty and colorful!

Cheese and Veggie Muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 diced red bell pepper
1 cup frozen corn (defrosted)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach (defrosted)
4 eggs
6 slices of white bread (cut into small cubes)
salt and pepper to taste

Makes approx. 1 dozen regular-sized muffins

Cooking Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin/cupcake pan with non-stick spray. Do not use paper cupcake wrappers. The paper will stick to the muffins and will not come off easily.
2. Thoroughly combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Spoon mixture into muffin pan.
4. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (or until tops of muffins are golden brown).

Easy peasy! 😉

I actually have no idea how well these muffins went over with the kids. My children will eat anything and everything, including spinach and red bell peppers. However, the cheesiness of the muffins mask the taste of the (healthy) veggies, so I’d say there’s a decent chance that non-veggie lovers would be willing to give it a try. When I make these muffins for my family, I also add BACON because… well, bacon. Just chop up some cooked (but not crispy) bacon and add to the mix.

 

Now that my houseguests have gone home and my week of snack responsibilities have ended… I can return to the lunacy of the everyday that is my life with three kids. 😉

Why I Lie to my Kids

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With just one short week until Christmas, my Facebook Newsfeed is full of posts about decorating trees, baking cookies, visiting Santa, the oh-so-naughty Elf on a Shelf, videos of kids singing songs about Rudolph, and in contrast, I’m bombarded with numerous articles and blog posts about why some parents choose to not buy into the world of Christmas Make-Believe. Several friends have also posted about the fact that telling their young children about the mythical world of the North Pole and its crazy cast of characters is akin to lying. And they don’t want to lie to their children.

This got me thinking… I lie to my kids Every. Single. Day. Multiple times a day, in fact. I lie to them all kinds of things. When they ask me how I know they were doing something when I wasn’t even looking at them, I tell them that mommies have secret, hidden eyes on the back of their heads. When they ask me how I cleaned the whole house while they were napping, I tell them that I used my Mommy Magic or that some fairies flew into the house while they were asleep to help me. I tell them that restaurants and stores are closed—when they’re not. That the grocery store was all out of ice cream. That they had enough money in their piggy bank to buy their baby sister the stuffed animal she wanted. I lie to them on purpose. And I lie to them WITH purpose.

I do it because I want my children to believe in magic. I want their young lives—untainted by the nastiness and cruelty of the Real World—to BE MAGICAL. I want them to look upon this world we live in in absolute wonder. I want their imaginations to run wild. I want them to believe that the people, places and things they encounter are filled with amazing possibilities. I want them to grow up believing in miracles. I lie to my children not because I want to frighten them into submission or bribe them into behaving like model citizens, lest they end up on Santa’s Naughty List and receive coals for Christmas. I lie to them to make them laugh, to bring joy into their wonderful little worlds.

I lie to my kids because they are tiny little humans who believe. They believe that Mommy can make the hurt go away with her magical kisses. They believe that Daddy is the strongest person in the world who can fix anything and everything. They believe that our family is the happiest and the funnest family in the whole world. They believe that Mommy and Daddy’s bed is The Safest (and Snuggliest and Best) Place on Earth. They believe in amazing and fantastical things as only children can.

I lie to my children because their childhood is brief. Before long, their sweet voices will be tinged with sarcasm and disinterest as they grow older, experience the world, and become more independent. They’ll become jaded, and things like pushing their own kid-sized shopping cart at the grocery store will bore them. Squeezing our family of five onto one couch for movie night will no longer appeal to them. They’ll soon start to roll their eyes at me when I tell them I have eyes on the back of my head…

The magic and fantasy of childhood is limited, and their experiences in this world—the Real World—are unavoidable, inevitable. Soon, the magic of Christmas will fade. They won’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. They will realize that Mommy’s kisses are just plain kisses and don’t actually heal wounds. My children will stop looking up at me, hanging on every word, their eyes round in wonderment, as I weave tall tales for them. But their memories will be there—memories of being enchanted, of sharing their beautiful imaginations with Mommy and Daddy, and of the magic of childhood.

I know that Santa Claus and reindeers and a giant, magical toy factory in the North Pole aren’t what Christmas is all about, but this moment of childhood wonder and belief is brief. They have the rest of their lives to appreciate the meaning and the spirit of Christmas sans jolly, old man in a red suit. But for now, Santa is magical. And magical is good.

A Month’s Worth of Fun School Lunches!

The month of September was a difficult one for my kids and me. Don’t get me wrong–my boys have been having a WONDERFUL time at kindergarten, and they’re thriving, but it was definitely a month of transitions and of mommy being stretched reeeeeeeally thin, at times. My husband was traveling for work for half the month, so I had to do everything alone. This wasn’t the first time he’s traveled for work, but it was the first time I was home with SCHOOL-AGED children. Getting kids ready for school, dropping them off, picking them up–all on a strict schedule–is exhausting. Really, really exhausting. And to top it all off, all 3 of my kids have been sick at some point during my husband’s 2 weeks out of town. Figures… :-p

Anyway, one way I’ve been able to squeeze in some creative crafting time during the past month while barely managing to keep my head above water is with my boys’ school lunches. Something productive (that has to be done) and something pretty in one!

So here’s my month’s worth of fun (and easy) school lunches with brief descriptions of how I made them:

Some helpful tips about making school lunches:

  • Make a weekly schedule. It takes a bit of time to put a weekly meal schedule together, but it ends up saving time in the long run. Plus, it alleviates the stress of “WHAT AM I GOING TO PACK FOR LUNCH!!!” the night before. Here’s a free printable for planning a week’s worth of meals.
  • There are many, many tools to make your life easier such as cookie cutters, cute bento-box animal picks, rice molds, and nori cutters. Living in Korea, I have easy and inexpensive access to many of these items, but they’re also available on Amazon. For “specialty” bento box tools such as the animal picks and nori cutters, just do a quick search.
  • Prep as much as you can the night before. I usually prep fruits and vegetables the night before and stick the containers in the fridge. That just leaves rice balls and/or sandwiches for the morning. Keep in mind that some foods don’t reheat very well (such as the rice balls) so those must be prepped the morning off. Nori must also be used immediately after cutting. The humidity in the room will cause it to curl (or dry out too much) if you wait too long after cutting it to use it. This is why nori-cutters are so useful!
  • Leftovers are your friend! During the week, I specifically make a couple of dinners with leftovers for lunch in mind. Also, serve breakfast for lunch. Kids won’t mind! One of the biggest challenges for me is thinking about lunch-appropriate meals, but who says they have to eat “lunch” at lunch time? Egg mari is a popular side dish in Korean cuisine, so I make it fairly regularly for my kids. It’s basically just a sliced up omelet. I also make bacon, egg, cheese and toast muffins, which are technically a breakfast food, but the kids love it. They’ll eat it for breakfast before they go to school, then eat it again for lunch the same day. 😉

For me, packing my kids’ lunches is something I enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it and don’t stress about not doing enough for your children! When I started posting photos of my kids’ lunches on Instagram, my friends began responding with things like “You’re making me feel like a crappy mom.” 🙁 First of all, my kids would be just as happy with a plain ham and cheese sandwich, a bag of chips and an apple EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They don’t need or ask for variety. Secondly, by the time they open their lunch boxes at school, my cute little bento creations are a COMPLETE MESS. Their lunch box goes into their backpacks every morning. And every morning, they run down the stairs of our apartment building. They run from the car to their classroom. They may even fall down, roll down a hill, jump over puddles, do a few jumping jacks, or run an obstacle course on their way. I’ve joined them for lunch from time to time, and their bento boxes are utterly unrecognizable. So basically, their lunches are for photographic purposes only. 😉 I do, however, show the boys their lunches before I put their lunch boxes into their backpacks so it’s not a complete waste. Haha!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed!

Happy Lunch-Making!

Free Printable: Star Wars Lunchbox Notes

I’m a little bit obsessed with packing lunch for my new little kindergarteners. I think it gives me a way to channel my nervousness and anxiety about them being away from me every day. It’s hard sending my babies off to school… I used to be the single most influential person in their lives. They spent just about every waking moment (and some sleeping moments too!) with me. Now, they’re off at school for nearly 7 hours/day. I pick them up from school and drop them off at their martial arts class, and they don’t get home until almost 4pm, and with a bedtime of 7pm… I only see my sweet baby boys for 3 hours! So after they snuggle into their beds for the night, I get to work in the kitchen and spend a few moments putting together a lunch that reminds them of home, and maybe (in a gentle way) lets them know that Mommy is thinking about them as they scarf down their lunches! 😉 

So here my little lunch creations for my Star Wars loving boys from our first week of kindergarten: 

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Star cut-out ham and cheese sandwiches with steamed carrots, apple and peach slices, pretzels, cheese stick and a couple of cookies (of course!)
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Beef bulgogi with mushrooms and carrots, heart and bear shaped rice balls, seaweed, kimchi, cherry tomatoes, grapes and Spiderman gummies!
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Lightning bolt cut-out sandwiches, fruit medley (bananas, peach, kiwi and cherry tomatoes), pretzels, cheese sticks, and a piece of chocolate chip bread
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Kimbab and a hard boiled egg with wink smiley face cut out from seaweed and flower shaped carrots and cucumbers!

 

Now that the fun, the highs and lows, the excitement and the meltdowns, and the new schedules of the first week of school have come to an end… Here are some free Star Wars lunchbox notes for your favorite little Star Wars fan’s meal away from home! 

Star Wars Lunchbox Notes

 

Click here to download the pdf: Star Wars Lunchbox Notes

delightful. designs on Etsy!

delightful. event designs by julia (that’s me!) has opened up a new Etsy shop where you can purchase and instantly download thank you cards and posters! I’m still working on making my party designs available in the shop, but it involves quite a bit of converting and compressing of files, and well… I’m working on it! 😉 I’d love for you to stop by the shop! 

delightful. Etsy shop

Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Outdoor Fun in Gangchon

If you’re a regular here on my blog, then you know that my sweet baby boys–who aren’t babies anymore–are about to start kindergarten. And to bid farewell to our carefree days at home and welcome in a new era of having school-aged children, we decided to take a fun-filled family trip out of Seoul! Having experienced the insanity of travel on weekends, my husband decided to take a couple days off from work, and we planned our trip for Sunday through Tuesday. That way, we could avoid the mass exodus out of Seoul on Saturday mornings and the hectic trip back to Seoul on Sundays. The last time we traveled to the Chuncheon area, what should have been a 90 minute drive took us nearly 3 hours. Lesson learned… We left Seoul on Sunday morning and made it to our destination in 90 minutes flat. The drive home was even better. Door to door in 80 minutes! How’s that for efficiency?? I found a wonderful little pension–Dabol Pension–just outside of a town that we’d driven through the last time we were in the area. We’d seen a little amusement park, another bike rail park, and lots of ATVs and bike paths, and we had promised the kids we’d take them back. The drive from the pension to the little town of Gangchon took less than 10 minutes, and the place was perfect. I specifically searched for a place with a pool, and this place delivered! The pool was perfect for my little 5 year old swimmers. The water was no deeper than 2 feet, and the slide… Well, it was endless hours of entertainment! The only downside (for parents) is that the pool water is pumped directly from the little mountain stream that runs behind the pension. Meaning it’s COLD. ICE COLD. The kids didn’t seem to care. At all. Dabol Pension Pool Dabol Pension offers several different accommodation styles from Western style rooms for couples and/or families (with lofted bedrooms, kitchens and private patios) to Korean style rooms for larger groups (up to 10 people) and caravan/campers. Our family loves to go camping, and our kids especially love “car-houses,” so we opted for the camper. It was perfect for our family of 5. Dabol Pension Camper Inside, there’s a full sized bed and a set of twin sized bunk beds, a small kitchenette with electric stove, fridge, and dining table, and a bathroom. It also has air conditioning–woohoo! The built-on patio also had a charcoal grill and a table with weather screen in case of rain. It didn’t rain while we were there, but the screen did a decent job of keeping the bugs at bay. Prices vary by time of year and day of week, but for our quiet non-weekend trip, the rates were very reasonable. 130,000W per night for 2 people, plus an additional 10,000W for each of our older children. Our youngest–who is 2.5 years old–didn’t count. 😉 The various rates are published on their website, but here are the general prices: Caravans (2 people included in rate/4 person maximum) 130,000W for weekdays/150,000W for weekends Western-style rooms (4 people included in rate/8 person maximum) 150,000W for weekdays/180,000 for weekends Korean-style rooms (10 people included in rate/10-12 person maximum) 250,000W for weekdays/300,000W for weekends) Prices for peak season are higher (peak season dates vary each year). Aside from our fun at the pension, our 3 day trip to Gangchon was filled with excitement for our little ones. We hit the bike rails first: Bike Rail ParkIf you’ve never heard of the bike rails in Gapyeong-gun, they’re an ingenious way to use old, out-of-use railroad tracks. There are 2 seaters (25,000W) and 4 seaters (35,000W), and you just pedal down the railroad tracks and enjoy the view! The last one we rode, which started at Gyeonggang Station, began and ended at the station. Halfway down the tracks, you were spun around and sent back to the station. The one we rode this time (starting at Gangchon Station) was 8.2km long and ended at Kimyookyung Station, which took about an hour and 15 minutes. From there, a shuttle bus took us back to Gangchon Station. The entire trip took about 2 hours. If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, I would suggest taking the one at Gyeonggang Station. It was much easier! This one was definitely a work-out, especially since my 5 year olds are just a little too short to help with the pedaling! Oh, and another helpful tidbit–children up to 36 months old can be held on your lap. However, if you have a family of 4 and are able to seat your little one in a seat, do that because it’s MUCH harder to pedal with a kid sitting on your lap. Just ask my husband. After our bike rail adventure, which included going through a tunnel–complete with fluorescent lights and Gangnam Style blasting on speakers (only in Korea!!!), we ate lunch and ventured over to one of several “adventure parks” in town for some kart racing and ATV rides. Both were a HUGE hit, and really… Both were experiences that our 5 year olds AND our 2 year old would never have in the US, quite simply because of something called Safety Standards! For the kart racing, they just strapped our 2 year old in with one of the 5 year olds, told my husband that the second steering wheel that my son had control of also steers the vehicle so don’t drive too fast and sent them on their way! I was in another kart with the other 5 year old, and I had to MANHANDLE my steering wheel to keep us on the track. Kart Racing 20,000W pays for 15 minutes on the track, which was more than enough to satisfy me, but maybe not the kids… 😉 After the kart racing, we went for the ATVs. 20,000W got us the ATVs for a full hour, and like the kart racing, they weren’t too concerned about safety–haha! We strapped our 2 year old into the Ergo on my husband’s back and off we went! IMG_8935 IMG_8938 There are numerous trails around town, and all they asked is that we not go into town. All of us had an absolute blast, and my boys deemed the day THE BEST DAY EVER. What more can you ask for? Back at the pension, there was more pool-time, some hanging out on hammocks and grilling. IMG_8908 Oh, and if you thought you had to start heating up your charcoal an hour before you planned to grill your meat, then you’ve never experienced Korean grilling. This was our first day’s lighting of the charcoal. IMG_8901Day 2 got a lot more efficient. IMG_8957 Why, yes! That’s a blow torch! Our coals were red hot and ready to go in 15 minutes flat. Korean efficiency at its best. If you’re looking for a place to go with (or without) kids, I would definitely recommend this area. It’s not a far drive, there’s so much to do, and the beauty of the Korean country/mountainside never gets old.

My Blissfully Happy, Unprepared Kindergarteners!

My baby boys start kindergarten in just 2 short weeks… Time has flown by, and I can’t believe that we’re already here. Although I have trouble remembering what my life was like before kids, I can remember being overwhelmed with feedings and diaper changes like it was just yesterday. It all happens so quickly.

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A year ago, my husband and I made the decision to not send the boys to preschool. We struggled with the decision, weighing the pros and cons, making lists, reading everything I could find on the real benefits of putting them in school at age 4 rather than at age 5. Plus, the cost of sending two kids to preschool at the same time is nothing to scoff at. When we finally decided to keep them home, the plan was for me to “teach” them the things they would have learned in preschool. At first, the kids and I did a pretty good job. We worked on our numbers and our ABCs… I planned lessons and printed out worksheets, put together craft activities and thought of creative ways for them to learn all the basics.

But after a while, I got frustrated with trying to keep my then 19 month old occupied long enough for us to make it through just one letter. A couple days would go by without me “teaching” them anything (it seemed), and I would feel guilty about it, and we’d try again to get through the letters and numbers we missed so we’d be back on track. It was a vicious cycle of frustration and guilt. Our daily lessons became more of a chore than anything else, but my friends whose kids were in preschool were already learning how to read, and my Facebook Newsfeed was full of posts about friends’ preschoolers who were academically doing so much more than my kids. Mom guilt can be unbearable.

Then I read this amazing blog post about what a 4 year old should know:

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

* She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
* He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
* She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
* He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he couldn’t care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
* She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

I remember feeling the guilt and stress and pressure of parenting lifting off my shoulders. All of the things I wanted for my children–right here–put into words and published by another mom. I wasn’t alone in all this!

So I stopped spending my evenings after putting the kids to bed planning out lessons and scouring the internet for teaching resources, and we stopped trying to force ABC and counting lessons while trying to prevent my daughter from eating paper and crayons and scribbling on the walls. Instead, we visited parks and playgrounds, went to museums and play parks with friends, took swim lessons and started martial arts classes. Over the past year, the boys have gone fishing and digging for clams. They’ve fed animals at petting zoos and ran around like lunatics at playgrounds. They’ve practiced riding their big boy bicycles and created masterpieces with play-dough. Their vocabulary (both Korean and English) has improved dramatically. They’ve spent time with friends and relatives and had regular lunch dates with Daddy. We attended story time at our local library and became involved in a weekly playgroup. The boys both hosted and attended their very first sleepovers. We caught tadpoles and found newly hatched baby birds inside an old mailbox. We baked cupcakes for our neighbors, took homemade cookies to Daddy’s office. They learned how to wash dishes and make their own beds (sort of), and we built forts and dressed up in full costume for epic lightsaber battles in the living room. It’s been a year of making memories with my too-quickly-growing children.

When we registered the boys for kindergarten, we were given a list of things kindergarteners SHOULD know before starting school. I scanned the list and realized that my boys are apparently completely unprepared for kindergarten because The List didn’t care that my boys learned about gravity at the Rolling Ball Museum or that they visited a working farm on the Korean countryside and saw how vegetables are harvested and prepared for sale. The List didn’t ask whether or not they understood how coal was made and used to heat homes in Korea or how clay is glazed and fired before it can be used. The List didn’t mention anything about how much they know about the lives of people like Abraham Lincoln and Amelia Earhart and Henri Matisse from books read to them before bedtime. The List didn’t know my children at all.

Our children’s experiences and memories and all the things they’ve learned along the way don’t fit on any single list. And amazingly–somehow–over the past year as we adventured through Seoul, this Type-A, always over-prepared, plan-ahead-obsessed mama has learned to let go. I tossed The List in the trash can. My boys are HAPPY. And that’s enough for now.

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Alice in Wonderland Dress

When a friend asked me to help her with her daughter’s Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party, I jumped at the chance! Alice in Wonderland is such a fantastically open-to-interpretation film that the possibilities are endless. We quickly decided on a general theme for the decor (which you can see over on the delightful. website), and I loved putting it all together, but there was something special that I just couldn’t wait to see the birthday girl dressed up in–an Alice in Wonderland dress!

I scoured the internet for other Alice in Wonderland dresses/costumes, but either they would take way more time than I had to make or they simply weren’t true to the Disney version of the dress. Mostly, my issue was with the shape of the straps on the white apron.

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Alice’s apron doesn’t have “straps” OR ruffles…

Alice-PNG-alice-in-wonderland-33922018-444-800The straps simply get wider as they get closer to the shoulder. And even though it’s a cartoon, and I know things translate differently in real life, I just love the simplicity of the Disney version of Alice’s dress. So… I had to draft my own pattern. Luckily, the birthday girl is the same size as my Penny, so I grabbed one of my daughter’s dresses and made a quick pattern for a dress.

I didn’t have too much time to work on the dress, so I really tried to keep it as simple as possible. One of the ways I toned down the complexity was to not add a waistband or shaping to the dress. It was going to be tied off at the waist anyway with the apron, so I didn’t need to create a bodice or any shaping around the midsection. For the sleeves, I hemmed the fabric while leaving enough room in the folded over fabric for 1/4 inch elastic. I made a simple Peter Pan collar for the dress, and rather than fiddling with a zipper or buttons, I just put an eye and hook closure at the back of the neckline.

IMG_8621Once the dress was finished, it was very simple to draft a pattern for the apron, especially since I could use my daughter to get the correct measurements. I simply drew the shape on a piece of paper, cut the fabric and got sewing! I searched for images of the back of Alice’s apron, but I couldn’t find anything from the back, the top of the apron is hidden by Alice’s hair. I just extended the straps and sewed the two pieces together at the back.

IMG_8622Here’s a photo of my reluctant daughter modeling the dress. She’s definitely got my-mom-sews-and-makes-me-try-on-everything-syndrome, and she hates trying stuff on for me. It usually involves tears and quite a bit of bribery. >_<

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Finally, to fill the bottom portion of the dress, I made a simple tulle skirt to be worn under the dress.

And here’s the beautiful birthday girl in all her Alice glory!

SONY DSCVisit delightful. to see more about the Alice in Wonderland party!

 

 

Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Transformers 30th Anniversary Exhibition at DDP

As my boys get older, I love that they play with the toys that we loved as children. Although I played with Cabbage Patch Kids and Barbies, I had an older brother who indoctrinated me in the ways of Transformers, Star Wars, G.I. Joe and Super Mario Brothers. We watched the cartoons and movies, owned the action figures, and occasionally, his G.I. Joes and my Barbies would get married before the Decepticons came and threatened to destroy life as we knew it. Thankfully, Obi Wan Kenobi and Optimus Prime were up for the challenge and all was right with the world. So when I heard that there was an exhibition or original artwork celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the birth of Transformers at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (in Korean only), I had to take my kids!

We headed out there early on a weekday morning–the best time to go to any public place here in Korea–and took the subway to the Dongdaemun Culture and History Park Station. Riding the subway apparently never gets old for 2 to 5 year olds, so woohoo! Mom is the greatest! 😉

Transformers Exhibition sign

Once we paid for our tickets and entered the exhibition, the children (my 5 year old boys in particular) were in Transformers Heaven. The exhibition itself is fairly small; however, it covers all 30 years of design and artwork–from concepts and models for toys, sketches for cartoons and the development of the CGI graphics for the recent movies. So perfect for the geekiest of Transformers Geeks!

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We were able to walk through the exhibition in about 30 minutes; however, there’s PLENTY of other things for kids (and adults) to do. As you enter the exhibition hall, you can choose a coloring page with either Optimus Prime or Bumblebee on it, and there are easels, floor cushions, and loads of crayons, pastels, markers and colored pencils available in the gallery. Kids can make themselves comfortable right in front of their favorite Autobot and get coloring! And once you’re finished, take your coloring page to the gift shop, show them your awesome creation and choose a free Transformers postcard!

Hello Kitty Prime, anyone?
Hello Kitty Prime, anyone?

There are also a couple of activities located by the gift shop/cafe. My kids absolutely loved the Contruct-Bots building station, complete with instruction booklets so you can build your own Transformer. (Parents be warned: There is no building set for Bumblebee, and you cannot take the toy with you–the building sets are there to play with, not to keep.) I liked that it was FREE. 😉

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I literally had to drag my kids away from here. There’s also a paper model building station, which costs 2,000W, and a little Transformers kart that kids can sit in and have their picture taken. It doesn’t go anywhere, but my 2 year old didn’t mind. She just sat it in for about 15 minutes, moving the mirrors around and pretending to drive.

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Directly across from this little display, there’s a staffed photo station. It costs 2,000W, but if you’ve spent more than 30,000W in the exhibition (including tickets, beverages and the gift store), you can show your receipts and get photos for free.

All in all, my kids and I had a great day. The exhibition is open until October 10, 2014, so if you or your kids love Transformers, then make plans to go!

Tickets:

Tickets are available for pre-purchase on www.ticket.interpark.com, but it’s only available on the Korean website, not on the English site. However, we didn’t have any problems purchasing tickets at the door.

Adults: 15,000W
Youth: 12,000W (junior high and high school)
Children: 10,000W (ages 3-12)
Children under 36 months FREE

They also offer family discounts:

2 adults and one child: 37,000W
2 adults and 2 children: 43,000W

Getting There:

The subway is probably the easiest way to get there. Get off at Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station, Exit 1. From the doors that lead out to the Plaza from Exit 1, just walk straight ahead across the plaza to the building directly in front of the doors. This will take you to Building A. Tickets can be purchased just inside the doors. The Transformers exhibition is just a little farther down the hall.