Thursday, July 28, 2016

Family Olympics 2016: Artistic Gymnastics, Athletics, Basketball and Boxing

As I mentioned in my post about the knitting loom beanie, my family returned last Wednesday from a 10-day cruise to Alaska. We traveled with the same group as during our Canada adventure: my parents (Dave and Kathy), my sister (Kari), my brother-in-law (Brian), my nephew (Timothy), my niece (Allison) and Brian's godmother (Judy). I offered to host our 4th annual Family Olympics.

Because this is an Olympic year and I've been doing a lot of Olympics-themed crafts, I decided that all of our Family Olympics events would be actual Olympic events. Well, not quite. The TITLES of the events would be actual Olympics events. The events themselves might vary a bit from the official rules. Before we sailed, I sent the following message to the family:

"This intense competition will test the physical and mental acuity of each of you. You will be pushed to your athletic and academic limits. You may want to prepare ahead of time through a series of rigorous calisthenics, calculations and calembour.  
All the details will be revealed to you once you are safely aboard the Grand Princess. In the meantime, you may wish to study the attached scorecard that reveals the twelve events that comprise the 2016 version of the Family Olympics. 
Best wishes to all. May the odds be ever in your favor."

 The events were divided into physical competitions (archery, athletics, basketball, boxing, golf and swimming) and mental competitions (artistic gymnastics, handball, rowing, sailing, taekwondo, and weightlifting). I alternated loosely between the two. I ended up cutting the golf competition, leaving a total of 11 events. I'll share four of them today.


The actual sport of artistic gymnastics involves things like floor exercise, balance beam, and pommel horse, but our version required decoding the artistic interpretations of the symbols used for each sport in the Rio Olympics. Each contestant got this sheet with instructions to identify each of the sports that will take place in Rio. Give it a try - it's harder than you might think.

I gave everyone all day to work on it. They were forbidden from using any outside help, electronics, etc. Some contestants used the strategy of putting the same answer on multiple icons, knowing that one of them would be right. Others filled in the ones they didn't know with wild guesses. Trevor absolutely cracked me up with one of his answers.

And I didn't see it until later, but he put 'mixed media' down for the pentathlon. Is he the son of a craft blogger, or what?!

Ready to see the answers?

How'd you do? Among our 8 contestants, Steve came in first, Timothy was second and Kari was third.


There will be 47 gold medals in Athletics in Rio - the most of any sport. It includes all the running, jumping and throwing events. For our competition, we did the shot put. We found an empty corner of a lounge and used cotton balls as shot puts. Here's an action shot from what ended up being Brian's winning toss.

Kari came in second. Steve and my dad tied for third. Yet only about a foot separated first and last place. As it turns out, there's only so far that you can put a cotton ball without resorting to 'creative' methods.


Imagine a mug is a basket and free throws are made with chipboard numbers. Your goals is to toss the numbers 1-8, one at a time, into the mug. I put a piece of masking tape on the floor to indicate the free throw line. The total score is the sum of the numbers that made it into the cup. This would be a score of 18:

Kari won this event with a perfect score! Second place went to my dad. Timothy came in third.


My goal in creating events for the Family Olympics was to minimize the amount of supplies I'd need to bring from home. For the basketball event, I knew there's be mugs onboard the ship, so I just packed the chipboard numbers. My plan for the Boxing event was to borrow a Jenga set from the game room and time each person to see how long it would take them boxing up the set properly. I was 100% counting on the fact that every cruise ship I've ever been on (and this was cruise #18 for me) has Jenga onboard.

Well, as it turns out, they DID have a Jenga set onboard... but it there were some blocks missing, the plastic guide was gone, and the box was torn. How can you have a boxing event without a box?! With no better option besides literally having my family box against each other, I ended having them do the opposite of boxing. I timed them building the Jenga set properly rather than boxing it up.

My mom won this competition. (The idea of Grandma getting the gold in boxing amused us all.) Second place went to Steve and Kari took third. After the competition was over, Trevor and Allison used the Jenga blocks as dominoes and played for a long time.

I'll share more from our Family Olympics tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Exploring Hawaii Through Little Passports

Disclosure: This post has affiliate links. If you make a purchase using the link, I will get a portion at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

I just finished my latest article for Little Passports and realized I haven't mentioned here that I'm now a paid blogger for Little Passports! As Trevor and I are making our way back through each state, I'm taking photos and writing about our adventures. I'm literally getting paid for doing crafts, cooking and science with my son and blogging about it. Pinch me!

The latest article was about Hawaii.

It was fun to go back and reread everything in the Hawaii Journal. Each Journal is packed with activities and information. As Trevor is getting older, he's getting even more out of each Journal. He's making connections and comparisons among the states. It's especially neat when he recognizes places in the Journal that he has been. 

Trevor has been to Hawaii twice, at age 3 and age 7. He doesn't remember the first trip at all and has incomplete memories of the more recent trip, so it's been awesome to be able to pull out the scrapbook and show him photos of him at the same places that are mentioned in the Journal.

In addition to the fun word search, hidden picture, dot-to-dot and other puzzles, we did all the hands-on activities too. We made origami whales.

We learned how to make a rainbow with a glass of water and tested a bunch of different variables to see how they affected the rainbow.

And Trevor made Hawaiian Sweet Bread with his cousin, Allison. Such concentration on both of their faces!

Their efforts were well worth it, as the bread was really yummy.

We'll definitely be making this again.

Another super fun adventure with Little Passports

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ellia at 7

My goddaughter Ellia will always be special to me for many reasons, among them that I was privileged to be there at her birth seven years ago. There's no one else in the world who can say that! Well, except Trevor, I suppose. He's pretty special to me, too. 

Here's the layout I made for Ellia's 7th birthday:

Obviously, I took my color inspiration from her cute two-tone dress. The page came together so quickly and easily. Scrapping is easy when you have a great photo of a beautiful girl as the subject! 

As always, I waited until after this year's page was done to look back at the previous years (which you can see here and here). I love seeing how my descriptions of her have changed as she's grown. It's fun to see the changes in my scrapbooking skills as well!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Kylinn at 10

After ten years, it's not exactly a surprise when I give my goddaughter Kylinn a framed scrapbook page for her birthday. But she's always SO excited to see the color scheme and the words I choose to describe her. I just love her enthusiasm!

Here's this year's layout. It's the one that had the tone-on-tone background stamping:

You can see Kylinn's nine other birthday layouts here and here. Ten years old. Where has the time gone?!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Oval Knitting Loom Project #1: Beanie!

Check out what I made!!!

This beanie is my very first ever knitting project. With as many crafts as I do, people are often surprised to hear that I'd never done any knit or crochet projects. A mom friend tried to teach me to knit over several different sessions about five years ago, but between my being left-handed and our kids interrupting us every 30 seconds, I didn't actually learn. 

Fast-forward to June, when Veronica from Leisure Arts contacted me to see if I'd be interested in reviewing their new Oval Knitting Loom as a beginner. (This link and some others in this post are affiliate links. I received product for the purposes of this review and will get a referral fee if you follow the link and make a purchase. As always, my opinions are my own.)

Ultimate Oval Loom Knitting Set

Veronica told me that the Oval Knitting Loom was also very kid-friendly. I was interested, but hesitant. Would I be able to do it, or was I setting myself up to fail? Did it matter that I was left-handed? Is this something Trevor would enjoy? I thought about it, then emailed my reply to Veronica: "I'd like to try. If it's REALLY easy enough for a true beginner, sign me up.About a week later, the Oval Loom Knitting Set showed up at my door. 

I'd met Veronica at the FaveCrafts Blogger Networking Event back in January. At the same event, I met Sandi from Premier Yarns. I contacted her to tell her I'd be reviewing the Oval Loom Knitting Set and asked if she could provide me with some appropriate yarn. She happily agreed and sent me some beautiful skeins. Thank you!

When the yarn arrived, Trevor and I opened the knitting loom and read carefully through the instructions for the first (easiest) project, the beanie. We decided to use the larger loom to make an adult-sized beanie. Trevor selected the azure Deborah Norville Everyday Soft Worsted Yarn. It's so pretty!

Finally, it was time to dive in. Fortunately, the directions were very easy to follow. The book has large, clear illustrations, as well as handy icons that show which steps have an online video tutorial. Within 15 minutes, Trevor had done the first few rows. 

Basically, all you do is wrap the yarn around the pegs, then use the tool to lift each loop over the next. That's all there is to it. 

I did a few rows, then we set it aside for the day. I love that there's no problem with just setting it down. 

One or both of us would do a few rows each day, until finally it was nearing completion. (Just noticed Trevor is wearing the same shirt both days I photographed him! It's from the LLNL Discovery Center.)

The final step to make the beanie was to remove it from the loom and shape it. We were really excited to be so close to the end and happily flipped to the directions to see what to do. Then... uh oh. The directions say to use a yarn needle to remove the project, but the kit does not include a yarn needle. I don't expect the kit to include EVERYTHING you need to make a project; for example, it's totally reasonable for the yarn to be sold separately and for crafters to use the scissors they already own to cut the yarn. But a yarn needle isn't something beginners are likely to have on hand. That's my only criticism of an otherwise excellent product.

Once we found a yarn needle, finishing up the hat took just a few minutes. So exciting! Here I am wearing it during our family cruise to Alaska. We got home on Wednesday.

See the icebergs in the water behind me? This was taken in Endicott Arm, partway to Dawes Glacier

I stayed toasty warm with my new hat. I'm looking forward to trying another project. Thanks again to Leisure Arts and Premier Yarns for providing me with the materials! 

The Ultimate Oval Loom 3