Tag Archives: family activities

The Secret World of Arrietty

I’m enchanted by little things. Tiny boxes, miniature bottles… it’s probably why we created the fairy garden in our front yard – to encourage little fairies to visit, and it’s so fun to build the tiny houses and pathways.

When we took the kids to see Beauty & The Beast in 3D, we saw a trailer for a new Disney movie that I thought at first was a new take on fairies. The Secret World of Arrietty, however, is about tiny people living normal lives – using their own ingenuity and hard work – to survive.

They spend their lives “borrowing” raw materials from humans, and avoiding contact with them. The story unfolds when one brave little “Borrower” girl becomes friends with a human boy.

The kids and I can’t wait to see this movie, which opens mid-February. The animation looks like no other Disney movie I’ve seen – lush, vibrant backgrounds, but spare, simple almost anime-style people. It looks very interesting.

"€œTHE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY"   Human boy Shawn (right, voice of David Henrie) is astonished when he visits the garden and discovers Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler) a tiny person who lives hidden with her family under the floorboards of the house where he's staying, in Disney's release of the Studio Ghibli animated feature, "€œThe Secret World of Arrietty."€ (Opening in theaters Feb. 17, 2012)  © 2010 GNDHDDTW. All Rights Reserved.

© 2010 GNDHDDTW. All Rights Reserved.

I also love the subtle environmental message:

Arrietty and her family represent nature and the small things that one rarely thinks about––blades of grass, bugs––life that is usually tucked away in the environment and that has learned to live underfoot. They’ve learned to borrow from the planet only what is necessary to survive and will allow for comfortable living.

Here’s the trailer from the movie, and Secret World of Arrietty Coloring & Activity_Sheets for the kiddles. You can also find more info and fun stuff on the Facebook page.

Will you see The Secret World of Arrietty when it comes out in theaters later this month?

~Krista

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A Dam Good Day

I used to enjoy a good Super Bowl Commercial Party – my friends and I would mute the tv during all the cumbersome football, and watch the commercials and half time with glee. That’s “glee,” not “Glee,” BTW.  Brian is always occupied with his annual poker game during the super bowl, so I’m left to my own devices.

But once I had kids, the old Champagne-drinking commercial-watching party just wouldn’t do anymore.

Blessed with gorgeous weather today (seriously – is it really February in Oregon?), we headed eastward to meet up with Dayl and Zephyr for some outdoor play. Other than the snacks we brought and the fuel to get there, it was all FREE family fun!

We stopped first at Bonneville Dam. The visitor center was fairly empty, so the kids could run around a bit.

We didn’t want to be inside too much with the sun shining, but thought the fish ladders would be pretty cool to check out.

Now that is a giant turbine! I was surprised at how interested they were in this thing. They made me read the whole sign, and they had a lot of questions about how it worked.

This video was way over their heads, but they liked being able to push the buttons! Interactive = popular.

Fortunately nobody minded that they were running...

Unfortunately, the ladders were empty. I mean really empty. The guy manning the visitor center informed us that since the ladders were empty, we could see some baby fish in an aquarium, so we headed down to check it out.

No water, and certainly no fish!

Eric thinks he saw a fish in here. I'm not convinced!

After the visitor center, we made our way to the fish hatchery to feed some fish and visit with Herman the Sturgeon, the famous 70+ year-old sturgeon. The Fish Hatchery has beautiful grounds, with pretty ponds and old stone paths. I was a bit paranoid about one of the kids falling in to a pond, but it didn’t happen, and everyone had a great time.

The viewing house at Herman's pond

Herman, in the flesh

Dayl made a new friend, and named him Fred

We stopped for a snack, always a good idea with little ones. Herman's House was a great place for this, with built in benches and awesome fish to watch.

Bring quarters! Several fish-food dispensers are placed around the grounds, and the proceeds go to park maintenance. The fish get all jumpy and active when you feed them, which is fun for the kidlets. We won't talk about the accidental graham cracker feeding.

We had a great time at Bonneville Dam and the Fish Hatchery with Dayl and Zephyr. We had some great discussions about the fur trade, and carnivorous animals, got to play in nature, and spend time with our good friends.

We followed it up with a short hike on the Pacific Crest Trail from Cascade Locks, and then a late lunch at Charburger. Perfect for our non-Super Bowl Day!

~Krista

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Christmas Ships #inPDX

One of our Advent Calendar family activities was to watch to the “Christmas Ships” on the Willamette River. I have very few free evenings this time of year – between ZooLights and Brian’s pool night, and holiday parties and school meetings – so I was glad that my one free night last week coincided with the ships parading near us. Here’s what the website says:

Tuesday, Dec. 13th – OMSI to Fremont Bridge
At 7:00PM, the Willamette Fleet assembles in front of Riverplace Marina, (1750 SW Harbor Way, Portland). The parade will begin across the river in front of OMSI and travel downriver to area of the Fremont Bridge  The fleet will go under the bridge and then turns to return to Riverplace Marina. The fleet will be out for about two hours. Restaurant and hotel links, outdoor viewing location and further details

Eric loved that these boats were decorated as a fire truck and an airplane

We bundled up in coats, scarves, hats & mittens, with my favorite little cashmere hand warmers from Restoration Hardware. We raced to get near the start of the parade by 7 pm, not wanting to miss it. We parked ourselves on the beach under the Hawthorne Bridge, where Brian and I used to go to watch fireworks. It’s nice to be so close to the water, and not many people go down there. Anna was terribly worried that perhaps we weren’t supposed to be there, actually refusing to come with us at first. But Brian explained, “This is our city, and we are allowed to be here in our city.” That finally convinced her. I’m so glad she’s so concerned about doing the right thing!

The colorfully lit & decorated ships circled in front of us (okay, technically in front of Riverplace Marina) for a good 40 minutes. The kids enjoyed talking about the lights on each one. We were wondering why it took so long to get started with the actual “parade,” but once it finally started, it was kind of anticlimactic. The circling & assembling brought the boats fairly close to us on the east side of the river, but once they started their promenade, they were close to the west shore, and very small to us!

Santa's sleigh. Sorry so fuzzy from my phone!

Next time, we’ll just count on watching the assembling & circling. If we want to watch the parade part, we’ll find a spot at Waterfront Park on the west side of the river to hunker down. I think we’ll bring hot chocolate in a thermos, as well, along with the real camera! My phone takes some great photos, but it wasn’t quite up to this challenge.

Both the Willamette and Columbia River fleets parade together each night starting the weekend of the 17th, so it should be much more spectacular with more boats. Here’s the rest of the schedule, below, and details here:

Wednesday, Dec. 14th – Riverplace Marina to Milwaukie Boat Ramp • 7 pm

Thursday, Dec. 15th – OMSI to Fremont Bridge • 7 pm

Friday, Dec. 16th – Riverplace Marina to Milwaukie Boat Ramp • 7 pm (loops by Oaks Park)

Saturday, Dec. 17th – Riverplace Marina to Lake Oswego • 5 pm

Sunday, Dec. 18th –  Riverplace Marina to St John’s area, continuing on to Columbia River • 5 pm

Monday, Dec. 19th – James M Gleason Boat Ramp, WA Shores, Wintler Park, I-5 Bridge (Columbia) • 7 pm
Tuesday, Dec. 20th – I-5 Bridge/Hayden Bay (Columbia) • 7 pm
Happy holidays,
~Krista

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The Advent of Anna’s Birthday, and also… Advent.

My poor little Anna has been obsessing about her birthday since September.

When will it be my birthday?
Why is my brother’s birthday before mine, but I’m older than him?
I can’t wait for it to be my birthday!

I was worried that she would spend so much energy worrying about this one day, that it would come and go and then she’d be disappointed.

I made a 3-month calendar for her to check off the days, and that kind of worked for a while, but I wanted something more special. Not that I want to indulge her every five-year-old whim, but I see value in helping her enjoy the anticipation of the whole experience, not just the day itself.

I’ve been looking at a lot of different Advent calendars, with the plan of making the first 11 days of December be all about Anna’s birthday. I saw a lot that were adorable and many that were complicated, and some that seem to take over a whole room. Since I’m trying to simplify, not complicate my life and living space, I rejected most of them.

My cousin Jackie, proprietress of Brow Betty – check it out, you’ll be glad you did! – posted this pic on Facebook, and I was hooked. How cute and simple!

Each one is a matchbook, filled with a message promising family activities or treats. Love it!

So we copied Jackie to a certain extent, and made Anna boxes to lead up to December 11:

December 1-11, ready to be lined up on the piano

And then made Christmas boxes for December 12-25:

We lined the Advent of Christmas boxes along the mirror on the mantel. I’ve filled some of them with activities or treats, but I need to get the others filled quickly! The advent of Anna’s birthday boxes were lined up on the piano, and the completed days went back in to the silver snowflake bowl.

It's easy to count down the days, because the kids can clearly see how many boxes are left!

I bought the matches at Winco in packs of 10 for only 50¢ each, and now we have a ton of matches…

That’s alright, I like to light candles.

Most of the papers we already had on hand. I bought a few sheets of number stickers at Michael’s for $3 each, and a few extra sheets of paper at 4/$1. I think we spent a grand total of $9.50 on this activity. Of course we already had tape, glue and fancy scissors.

What do you think? I’m kind of loving it!

Happy holidays,
~Krista

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ZooLights at Oregon Zoo {Wordless Wednesday}

ZooLights runs November 25 - January 1, closed December 24-25

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Better Than a Piggy Bank

We’ve been talking a lot about saving money lately, and my mother-in-law Judy even wrote a guest post about it. We are setting some easily-attainable goals for the kids, and encouraging them to earn money by helping around the house.

We have a few different piggy banks, a zebra bank, and a really awesome bank that my mother in law made for Anna when she was a baby. But I wanted a way for the kids to see how their pile of change was adding up, so I combined our love of making a mess doing craft projects with our need for new money vessels.

I jabbed a slit into the tops of two canning jars, and we started gluing things on! The key is to keep the lid free and clear enough to be able to open it up whenever we need to count it or when it's finally time to buy something.

We also made sure to leave a clear space on each jar so we could see the money adding up.

I tied the bow for Anna, otherwise she did it all herself. Eric wanted Lightening McQeen on his, since he's saving up to buy a specific toy car. Anna still is fixated on Disney World, so I'm trying to help her identify something more immediately-attainable to save for that she can take to Disney World!

What do you think? I’m really loving these jars. It seems more exciting to put the money in when the kids have decorated the jars themselves!

~Krista

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Wordstock: Write up my alley

I grew up a bookworm, devouring every book and magazine I could get my hands on. I remember sitting around the living room with my whole family, each of us reading our own book, or sometimes reading together.

Life just seems more busy and hectic now than when I was a kid.  I haven’t made as much time for reading for pleasure lately. I try to read to my kids each night before bed, but I don’t want reading to be just a bed time ritual. I want my kids to grow up with the same love of books that I did, because I got so much pleasure (and vocabulary) from it, but also because I believe that foundation of reading helped make me a writer. Anna especially is so very very creative, and I want to learn some tips for fostering her writing. And reading.

.

So along comes the Wordstock Festival! Wordstock works all year to foster literacy and support local writers, and the festival is a giant blow-out of activities and opportunities.

We have a busy weekend (celebrating Eric’s birthday!), but we are carving out some time to go to the Knowledge Universe Children’s Literature Stage. There will be hands-on children’s reading and writing activities, plus book readings by nationally-known authors. The kids will love it. Plus, I’m hoping to pick up some tips for myself on how to foster their reading and writing.

I wish I had the whole weekend to devote to learning from and interacting with the incredible slate of authors at Wordstock Festival. I know I could improve my own writing and I’d love to hear their stories. But for now, I’m so glad the kids and I will experience the children’s area. I’ll let you know what we learn!

~Krista

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