Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting Ready For Christmas in Korea

The day after Thanksgiving, the house still a mess, we were all eager to decorate for Christmas as usual. Only this year....well, the next 3....won't be Christmas 'as usual' for the Adams Family. We were very limited on our house hold goods weight limit that the army would ship over here and with 6 people, holiday decor just didn't make the cut. So sadly, here we are for 3 years with NO decorations!

After I got over being sad and missing all my special things that are packed up in a storage place somewhere...only the army knows...then I decided I'd better change my attitude about it all. Christmas is still Christmas without all that stuff! - I think the Whos down in Whoville taught me that one. :) 
We talked about just celebrating without all the 'stuff', but 3 years is a long time and a lot of Christmases without our special things. Then we decided we could make all of our decorations for the house and continue with some of our usual traditions, but in the end, I HAD to have a tree to put the presents under! A paper one on the window just wouldn't do!

So....the hunting began. There are not real Christmas trees easily accessible over here. We have heard rumors that there are some available in far off places that cost quite a bit if you are willing to travel to get them, and Korean stores don't carry fake ones either. I haven't yet figured out how Christmas is celebrated in the culture over here. There are many Christian Korean churches around but the usual signs of Christmas...even though everything I'm thinking of is mostly commercial...like we see in the States, just aren't found over here.

Our only hope to find a fake tree was at the PX, or the Osan AFB BX. They had a few different ones to start, and even less to choose from after the Day After Thanksgiving morning rush of insane shoppers. So by that Friday afternoon, our choices were limited. We settled on, not the smallest but the next size up A 4.5 foot tree as the only other option was a gigantic one that would never fit in our Korean size house. Anything middle size, short enough, or in the budget... was out. It is the tiniest Christmas tree we've ever had! Thankfully, the kids all think it's really cute and fun that it's 'their size'. :)
So we pulled it out of the box and Joshua put together the two pieces that make up the tree...LOL!
It came pre-lit but when the kids started asking where the decorations were, I told them in my happiest, 'isn't this fun' voice..."We're going to make them all! What can we find in the house to make our tree decorations with?" After a few minutes, they really started to get into it and we really did decorate the tree with only things we could find around the house! :) 
I'm really missing all the tons of craft stores in America right now that are so easy to run down the street and pop into anytime. The only Korean craft store I have found so far has a very limited supply of useful things. Tiny pom poms and stickers is about as good as it gets. I haven't even been able to find yarn anywhere! So we started our search in the house for things to create with. Remember, we didn't have room for anything extra...so the few crafty things I do have must have been stuck in random places and made their way here because my big craft totes went in the truck to storage. We found one sheet of red felt, and a bag of buttons and ribbons that I use when I make the girl's hair bows, construction paper, some cinnamon sticks and one glittery star sticker....it's a good start! The kids got right to work cutting shapes and gluing. Thankfully, I found some Elmer's type glue at the Koren store, I couldn't find any at our PX! No glue, no glitter, no pipe-cleaners! As I searched for something, anything to use, I was REALLY missing Oma's craft room! We got spoiled for awhile having it so close! :)
The ornaments were placed (without the use of any hooks) lovingly on the tree after each one was created. 
We tied some ribbon bows on it.
And some cinnamon sticks...
I think they all turned out really cute and are a great start to our homemade decorations!
Now that the creative juices are flowing, we have plans to make a few more over the next couple of weeks out of unique items and add them to our collection.

I ordered the kids all matching stockings with their names on them a few days before Thanksgiving and they got here surprisingly quick! I decided to hang them on their bedroom and playroom doors, since we currently have no fireplace, and put our advent calendar right in the middle. 
I found a great advent calendar online that I printed, cut and taped together...it was a lot of work, but I'm really excited to start it with the kids tomorrow! Since it's just made up of tiny flat paper doors that couldn't actually hold any treats or prizes, I decided to plan a fun activity for the family for each day. So I made a list of 24 activities, typed them out and folded each one up like a little note and stuck it in its appropriate numbered door and closed it with a little silver star sticker as the door handle. :) We'll be saving our door opening for evening time when Peter is home to do it with us. 
One of the things I miss the most from my box of special decorations is my nativity. So as  I crafted ornaments with the kids, my sweet husband drew me one! I had to take some pictures of him drawing it so people would believe he really drew this! 
He sketched it all out in pencil, then went over it with pen and filled it in. 
I think it turned out so cool! Here are all the pieces. I'm going to take another picture later, after we decide how and where to display them. I think my favorite part is the piece with the shepherds and the sheep. It took me a minute to see it, but there is one shepherd standing up and one kneeling and bowing all the way down, then behind him are 3 black sheep....can you see them? So cool! He is so talented! :)
So I started out feeling sad and homesick as the Christmas season drew near and by the end of all this I remembered that, "No One Has More Fun Than The Adamses!", and am now very much looking forward to celebrating this year! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

The First Snow

We enjoyed our first snow of the season here in South Korea today! It wasn't much...just a dusting, but it was enough to get the kids excited and make me have to go out in the cold with them for 20 minutes!

Every year, no matter where we've lived, we always celebrate the first snow of the season with a yummy cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows. The kids all ran to the window as soon as they woke up and squealed with delight, "It snowed! It snowed!"
Joshua immediately asked if we'd be having hot chocolate with our breakfast! To which I replied, "Of course! It's tradition!" Each of the children very much enjoyed their warm sweet treat to celebrate the first snow, it was a nice way to start the day.  :)
Faith Elaina wouldn't stop slurping long enough to smile for a picture. This is the most she'd give me....a peek over her mug!
Later in the morning I finally got brave enough to bundle everyone up and venture out into the cold after being asked about a hundred times, "Can we go out now?!" I'm actually glad it was only a dusting, I think it would have been much harder to bring them in if there was a lot more to play with out there.
They did somehow manage to make a snowman still, even though there was not much snow to work with!
Okay now that that is done....I'm ready for summer! :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Our First Thanksgiving in Korea!

We had a wonderful first Thanksgiving in South Korea! Total, there were 17 round the table! I'm so happy we were able to fill our home for the holiday and feed some very appreciative soldiers a home cooked meal. :) Everyone came over about noon and we visited, played some games, then we ate...and ate....and ate some more! Here is a picture of some of the group....
Peter did an awesome job (as always!!) entertaining everyone and making sure that they all experienced Thanksgiving 'Adams Style'....for those of you who've had Thanksgiving, or any holiday with us before, you know what I'm talking about...No One Has More Fun Than The Adamses!!  :)
And of course an event at the Adams house wouldn't be complete without a performance from the kids...
They sang a Thanksgiving song and made fast friends with all the soldiers.
I was there too...
I am SO thankful that today went as well as it did! I was really nervous about feeding so many people with my tiny Korean oven. THEN, our microwave...which I had planned on using today to reheat some things since I can only fit one thing in the oven at a time...died just as people were arriving! So somehow (Miracle of God!...There's just no other explanation!) I was able to cook everything and keep it all from getting cold while we enjoyed the feast. There was plenty of food and I even sent 6 of the soldiers home with 'left over' platefuls, which they were more excited about than they should have been. :)
We all had a relaxing afternoon, enjoying the blessing of each other's company, being thankful for friends who can be our 'family' when we're all so far away from our real families right now.
The kids all played great together and the house is a beautiful mess! So I'd say the day was a success, and now...I'm really tired! I hope everyone back home in the U.S. has a WONDERFUL, BLESSED Thanksgiving! We miss you TONS and are so thankful for all of you! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Little Brothers

There are a lot of games and activities that the kids prefer to play on the floor. They love to spread out and play or create, but lately, doing so has been extremely frustrating for them. Each of the children at one point or another earned the title in our house, "The Destroyer", because he or she would 'mess up' whatever their older sibling or siblings were playing or building. Well, the title has now been passed on to the littlest in the family and he is now known as "Samuel The Destroyer!"
There's just something about little brothers, they are WAY worse when it comes to destroying! Joshua and Samuel have enjoyed tearing things apart or knocking them down, much more than Faith ever did. And poor Joy has just learned over the years that if it is important to her that something she makes stays intact, then it's got to be up high. She likes to sit at the table or on the top bunk, up high and away from destructive little hands while she creates!

I printed this game for Joshua, but Faith got a hold of it first and asked to play when Joshua was doing something else. So I told her it was fine with me. She was smart, she did this when Samuel was asleep.
Later, when Joshua wanted to play, it was a different story! He was almost done with all of them when I heard the scream....
This was what was heading his way! (it's a little blurry because he was moving so fast!)
He knew exactly what he wanted, what he was after and no screaming brother was going to deter him! 
He was on a mission!....To get at WHATEVER it was that Joshua had!

Yes, I'm that crazy with my camera that I have it handy for all these moments! Joy even said, "Mom why are you taking pictures?! Pick him up!" And I did, just before he made it all the way to Joshua! 
It happened fast, but I was able to catch a few shots...even if they are blurry. Alone they might not tell much of a story, but when seen in sequence they're quite funny to me! Maybe you had to be there...but I thought I'd share them anyway.  :)

You can find this awesome printable here from
http://confessionsofahomeschooler.blogspot.com/
And tons of other wonderful resources as well!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Catching up...what happened to October?

I can't believe it has been over a month since I posted anything! Well, October was a busy full month with Samuel's birthday at the beginning and Halloween at the end and tons of fun in between! It just flew by too fast for us. The first week of November is already almost over, so I'll just put up a few highlights and share briefly some favorite moments of our last month. :)
The weather has been changing and getting colder and we even had a few rainy days. The kids love watching the rain out our HUGE window wall in the living room. So on one of our rainy days Faith wanted to make a picture of the rain. She glued some big raindrops on her page, then drew some with marker and finally, moved on to watercolor and finger painted more 'raindrops' on her page. It turned out really pretty and she was quite proud of this one and it hung up on the kitchen cabinets (our art gallery!) for the whole month. 
We haven't been able to go outside as often or for as long as we have been because it's gotten so windy and cool. So we've started getting out some of our old games to play again indoors and the kids have LOVED it! It's nice that we can put things away for a few months and bring them out again and their interest and excitement is fresh again. 

 Everyone getting in on the games!
 Joy and Joshua have played many games of WAR with some new cards we picked up at the Osan BX. She is very excited when she wins!!
We are living in the city so there are not as many fields of trees and rolling hills of fall colors like other places we've lived. Still, we've been able to find the signs of fall in our little neighborhood over the past few weeks. One day, we went out and collected some 'signs of fall' and the kids made some creations with them.
 Joshua really enjoyed this one. He loved building in his playdoh with twigs and colored leaves, different pine cones, nuts and rocks he found.
We didn't bring any of our holiday decorations for the house with us to South Korea so we decided to make some of our own. You can tell this picture is from early in the month because Samuel doesn't have his hair cut yet. I let the kids all make a huge mess of glue and tissue and they created these beautiful fall colored jars that we put candles in to decorate and glow around the house.
They turned out so pretty and the kids were really proud of them.
Behind them on the window you can see we covered it in leaves! This happened because one day the kids were REALLY into water coloring (I think we had just opened up a new pack of them) and they made TONS of water colored pages....I mean, probably 15 or 20 between them all. Well, I just don't have the space to hang EVERY single picture they make. So I convinced them we could do something else fun with their beautiful water color pages. Together we cut out leaf shapes after their pages dried and decorated our big window wall with our own fall flurry of leaves...it's wonderful! The kids thought it was a great idea to turn their paintings into something new. It was a fun way to enjoy them instead of the whole pile going in the trash right away, because there just isn't enough room to save everything.
Here are some more fall decorations they made, hanging over the table. Joy recently learned how to curl paper using the side of the scissors so she went curling crazy on hers! Joshua and Faith rolled their paper streamers with a pencil so they were not as curly, but still turned out great!
Joy has some really great books that we've been reading in her curriculum and we always do some sort of project related to the book. The favorite one this month was Charlotte's web and it's all because of these adorable pig cookies! They really enjoyed the story too, but the Wilbur cookies were a hit!
We made several and shared them with friends and ate too many ourselves! I let the kids frost one to eat themselves first, before we did any others and Joy and Joshua made 'o' shape mouths and said their Wilbur cookies were 'oinking!' It was a very yummy point in our school day.  :)
One of the books Joshua picked out at the library in October was 'Speed Racer'. It was a chapter book, as he was proud to tell everyone and I read it to him over a couple of weeks. But during that time, EVERYTHING was SPEED RACER! He played with all of his cars more that I've ever seen him play with them. They were racing everywhere and he was really enjoying our hard wood floor!
There is a pretty big gap underneath the couch so of course it became the tunnel for all the cars to race under.
Even Faith got in on the racing action...
Since Joshua was SO into speed racer, I had to take advantage of this and sneak in any learning I could that involved all things 'Speed Racer'.  Thanks to a quick Google Search I was able to find some Speed Racer graphics to print off and we used them for making patters, counting and math problems, sorting and graphing. 
He made race flags and used chairs, blocks and any other toys he could find that would serve as bridges or tunnels for the race track. We made guesses as to which car would go the fastest or the slowest and tested them to see if we were right. I was surprised at how fast some of those Hot Wheels will go when thrust across the floor by an excited four year old boy! Thankfully, no walls or furniture were dented in the process, but he sure had a lot of fun and was crushed when we were finished reading the book and we had to take it back to the library.
Faith Elaina has been learning about the Creation Story this month. We've been spending a week on each day, reading about it, making projects and learning our creation poem. I've been hanging up her projects really low so that she can see them and enjoy them easily. Here she is standing next to her pretty pictures and when we are done with all the days then we'll turn them into a book for her.
So far in our poem we've learned, "God made the light and the day and the night!" and the second day, "God made the sky! He rules on high!" She loves sticking the next fun pictures up that represent each day. I find her singing the poem often when she walks by her projects hanging up. And of course, now the rest of us are singing it too because it's so catchy! :)
One of the kids favorite projects Faith made when learning about the creation story was this little cloud blower.
It turned out really cute and the kids played with them all week till they fell apart from all of the spit they were blowing in breaking down the paper! :) It was too exciting, so Joy and Joshua had to each make one also.
I started doing some letter activities with Faith this last month too. She kept asking me "What letter is this Mommy?" and when I answered back, "You know that letter, what letter is that?" She would say "buh" or whatever the letter sound was, but very few letters would she be able to tell me the name. I realized that was what she kept asking me when she'd point to different letters and ask me what letter it was. SO....I figured since she's interested, we'll go with it as long as she's into it. I'm certainly not going to push it on her, but it would be nice if she new the names of her letters and wasn't constantly asking what each one was! We learned that Faith knows ALL her letter sounds, but very few letter names. The letters in her name she knows the best. She can sing her ABC song, but somehow missed connecting the two! A couple of weeks ago the big kids helped me build a 'Chicka Boom Boom Coconut Tree' from one of our favorite alphabet books, 'Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom!' Faith has been putting a new letter on it each week and thinks it is so funny that we have this tree on our wall.

I've been pulling out all my letter of the week activities I've done with Joy and Joshua in the past and Faith has been so sweet....she keeps saying, "It's my turn now!?" I didn't realize she was so looking forward to it being 'her turn' to do these things.  :)
This one cracks me up!...It was the moment she realized the 'b's looked different and said to me, "Mama, this 'b' is missing a bump!" So we briefly talked about capital and lowercase and finished sorting them all. (You can find these great printables and so many more here at:
http://confessionsofahomeschooler.blogspot.com)
We did SO many crafts and projects with it being the beginning of fall and also Halloween. But here are just a few of them that Faith is showing off.... her funny skeleton and handprint bat she made, and we found a great use for all the tiny circle stickers we have, she's been using them on letter pages each week!
I love Samuel's face in this one! He is so happy to be at the table with all of us while we're working so he plays really well right there in his seat while he listens and watches us. He's such a sweet boy!
We got a fun packages from our sweet friends the Sanguedolce's in Illinois and one of the treats inside was a package of those capsules you put in water and watch 'grow' into fun foam shapes. The kids were so excited about it, I had to snap a few pics of the process!
Daddy had them all making guesses about what it was going to turn into...
This one was a car and they were so excited about it, you would have thought it was a real one! After we made others and dried them all out, they played with them for days until the foam just couldn't hold up to all the kids any longer.
One week Joshua was insisting it was 'Button's birthday' coming up. So I surprised him one night and made a cake for Button the frog and the kids made him a birthday hat for the celebration. :)
October was a busy, full month and I have about 300 more pictures from all the fun we had, but it's a new month so I'm going to end the highlights here and try harder to post more frequently so I don't have a whole month to try and remember what we did and choose favorites from!