Saturday, September 24, 2016

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2016 King Richard's Faire: Kids' Renaissance Costumes, Amazing Performers & Souvenir Finds

Jacques Ze Whipper with Mini Jacques at King Richard's Faire  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Creating priceless memories at King Richard's Faire
Thank you to King Richards Faire for providing passes for my family to attend the 2016 Renaissance faire and to Oriental Trading Company for providing some of the accessories to complete our children's Renaissance costumes.

One of the things my family looks forward to the most in the fall is visiting King Richard's Faire in Carver, Massachusetts.  This was our 4th year attending this Massachusetts Renaissance faire and it has become one of our family's fall traditions.  The memories we create at the faire each year are priceless and will stay with our children for the rest of their lives.  Hopefully, when they have children of their own, they will be carrying on this tradition.
Jacques Ze Whipper at King Richard's Faire 2016  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Jacques Ze Whipper at the 2016 King Richard's Faire
This was the third year that our children dressed up for King Richard's Faire.  It's the Faire's 35th Anniversary, so dressing up was a must for them.  Our now 9 year old son has attended the faire as a knight and a wizard in the past.  This year, he wanted to dress up as his favorite King Richard's Faire performer, Jacques Ze Whipper.

DIY Jacques Ze Whipper Costume for King Richard's Faire  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
DIY Child's Jacques Ze Whipper Costume
I think I lucked out because I found a boys dress vest in the exact blue that I needed for this costume.  Some items I especially had trouble finding were the red costume sash (something other than a $30 red silk scarf) and leather-like arm bracers for a child.  Oriental Trading Company actually saved the day!  The red sash, whip, and face crayon for the mustache were found among their huge selection of Halloween costume accessories.  But wait! I had another stroke of luck with our son's Halloween costume.  He had chosen a ninja costume to wear for Halloween from Oriental Trading that happened to have leather-looking bracers for his arms and legs.  All these things brought our Jacques Ze Whipper costume together perfectly.  Our son was just thrilled!

Accessories for DIY Jacques Ze Whipper Costume for King Richard's Faire  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Jacques Ze Whipper Costume Accessories
For our 9 year old daughter, who has attended the fair as a maiden and as Juliet, she wanted to go as a princess.  After we finally found a dress that looked and fit great (and wasn't itchy), we finished her costume with a goldtone tiara, black crystal goldtone earrings, and stacking chevron rings.  What truly made her costume stand out was the black lace fan she  carried.  I just happened upon it when I was looking for accessories on the Oriental Trading website for our Jacques Ze Whipper costume.  Another stroke of luck!

Renaissance Princess Costume with Lace Fan at King Richard's Faire  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Girl's Renaissance Princess Costume with Lace Fan
In addition, to dressing up this year, we vowed to make it a point to see at least one or two performers that we haven't seen during past visits.  We tend to make seeing our past favorites a priority, so we rarely have enough time to discover new shows.
Squire of the Wire at King Richard's Faire  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
The Squire of the Wire at the 2016 King Richard's Faire
Upon entering the Faire this year, we had the pleasure of meeting the Squire of the Wire.  He was so nice (and funny too) that we made an extra effort to catch his act.  I also had the pleasure of catching the graceful Draiku Aerial Show because I happened to be waiting nearby while my daughter was having her portrait painted.
Draiku Aerial Show at King Richard's Faire  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Draiku Aerial Show at the 2016 King Richard's Faire
It is also a tradition of ours for each child to choose a souvenir to take home from King Richard's Faire each year.  Some years, the souvenir hunt was a little painful because my children can be quite indecisive.  This year, they each knew exactly what they wanted right away!
Monogrammed Medieval Staff from Seekers and Settlers at King Richard's Faire  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Monogrammed Medieval Staff Souvenir
We discovered a wonderful little shop called Seekers and Settlers!  I don't recall seeing it in past years, so perhaps it is new to King Richard's Faire?  It carried such charming wooden items, like staves, witches' brooms, magic wands, and more.  Our 12 year old son chose a staff for this year's souvenir.  When we got home he had the idea to tie a piece of suede cord around the wood near the top for each year he's attended the Faire and intends to bring the staff with him for future visits.  We also purchased a magic wand and sleeve for a birthday gift for my daughter's friend (huge Harry Potter fan).  Both the staff and the wand were monogrammed for us free of charge!

By the way, our son (pictured above) is wearing the chainmail bracelet he got for a souvenir during last year's visit to King Richard's Faire.
Animated Baby Dragon Puppet from Imaginarium Galleries at King Richard's Faire  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Animated Baby Dragon Puppet Souvenir
Our mini Jacques Ze Whipper chose a baby dragon puppet from Imaginarium Galleries.  These puppets are controlled by a cable that runs down your sleeve to your hand.  The cable is used to control the motion of the dragon's head.  This baby dragon is perfect for children.  There were much more detailed winged dragons for teens and adults that were extremely impressive to see.

Sitting for a Portrait Painting at King Richard's Faire  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Having Our Daughter's Portrait Painted at King Richard's Faire
For her souvenir, our daughter asked to have her portrait painted.  There were sketches offered that would take about 30 minutes, but she opted for the oil painting, which would take about an hour.  I was amazed at how well she did sitting still for the artist.  After about 40 minutes, he ended up being nice enough to take a photo of her (with his magical medieval tablet) to finish the remainder of the painting, so that she wouldn't need to sit for the whole hour.  We just needed to come back to pick up the painting before we left because the paint takes at least 2 full days to dry.

When we returned to pick up the painting, we were extremely pleased with the results.  Our daughter was so happy.  This might just be the best souvenir we've ever taken home from King Richard's Faire yet!  I highly recommend  having your or your child's portrait painted, especially if you are in costume.
Portrait Painted By Talented Artist at King Richard's Faire  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Original Oil Painting Portrait Souvenir from King Richard's Faire
You can view more 2016 King Richard's Faire photos on our Facebook page.  Visit to learn more about the performers and artisans, view the entertainment schedule, buy tickets, or get directions.  The 2016 season runs through October 23rd, so there is plenty of time for you to attend.  If your schedule allows, I recommend visiting more than once because it is impossible to see everything there is to offer in just one day.

What would you love to dress up as for your next visit to King Richard's Faire?
Share your ideas with us in a comment here.

Check out our past visits to King Richard's Faire . . . 

Monday, September 5, 2016

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4 Ways to Help Your Child Be More Responsible

Reminder tags remind kids to do important things when you aren't there  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Like many parents, sometimes I marvel at the lack of responsibility my children show.  This is particularly true with my oldest, who is currently 12.  He can be pretty forgetful at times and I can't follow him around for the rest of his life reminding him about this and that.  Here are 4 strategies I've employed to help our children become more responsible.  Some of them work immediately, but others work over time.

4 Strategies to Help Your Child Be More Responsible . . .

1.  Reminders That Go With Your Child - For times when your child is away from you, and does not have you there to remind them to do something important or time-sensitive, such as turning in their permission slip for a field trip by the deadline, try to put a reminder somewhere where they are likely to see it.  My son has tried writing things on his hand, but that only worked for him half the time.  What seemed to work better was my putting a reminder tag on his backpack.  He carries his backpack with him all day at middle school.  If he vows not to take the tag off until after the task is done, this strategy works very well.

You could also set an alarm on your child's watch or smartphone, but this should only be done when the alarm is not disruptive.  An alarm going off during the school day would likely be frowned upon by teachers.

2.  Train Your Child to Be Time-Conscious - This is something I just started doing and shame on me for not thinking of doing this sooner.  The first thing you need to do is make sure your child has a clock they can check easily, whether it's a watch, smartwatch, fitness tracker, or a mobile device.  Then instead of asking them to stop what they're doing immediately so they can do an assigned chore, you could tell them that they don't need to stop watching TV now, but they need to start the dishes by 7pm.  If they start the dishes by 7pm, then they can watch TV for another half an hour when they're done.  If they do not start the dishes by 7pm, then there are no more electronics for the rest of the evening.  So far, this has worked well with my 9 year old daughter.  Her twin brother and older brother are coming along more slowly.

3.  Adopt a Pet - Adopting a pet of any kind takes a commitment from the whole family.  It does teach children responsibility, but it could take years.  I've spent two years teaching our children to care for these two rescued cuties and to put the dogs' needs before their own.  Even after two years, they don't always remember to feed the dogs and give them fresh water before they sit down to breakfast themselves, but they do remember more often than not.  I've also started to find that they will occasionally notice when the water bowl is nearly empty and will take the initiative to fill it.

A photo posted by Karen Coutu (@karen3g2s) on

4.  Use Checklists Regularly - This is something you can start with your children early on.  If they haven't learned to read yet, you could use checklists with images instead.  Getting ready for school in the morning warranted a checklist at our house.  This, again, takes time to develop a habit of using the list and then going back through to double-check that nothing was missed.  I'd say it took our children a year and a half to get in the habit of using our morning checklist and not missing anything about 90% of the time.  Don't let your children fall into the habit of looking at the list and checking an item off as completed without actually going to check that it is actually done.  This was one of my children's biggest challenges.

Like these tips? Pin this post for later . . . 
4 ways to teach your children to be more responsible  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Do you have tips and tricks for teaching children to be more responsible?  Share them with us in a comment here.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

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Photos: On the Road Home from the 2016 National Taekwondo Championships in Richmond, VA

Delaware Bridge in Maryland  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
The Delaware Bridge in Maryland
This past July, my family went on its first long-distance road trip!  My 12 year old son had qualified to compete at the Junior Olympics for Taekwondo, which were being held in Richmond, Virginia this year.  How could we not go?

My biggest concern was how well our children, 9, 9, and 12, would do on such a long car ride.  I even made them each binders with road trip activities inside.  It turned out that we didn't really need them.  All we needed were phones, tablets, external battery packs, and a portable hotspot.
View of the Hudson River in New York  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Homes Along the Hudson in New York

When we drove from Massachusetts to Virginia, we left at about 1:00am, so there wasn't too much we could see until the sun came up.  On the way home, although it was gray and foggy, we were able to see quite a bit.
Oversized Clouds  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Cloudy with a Chance of Traffic

The distance from Massachusetts to Virginia is about halfway to Florida.  Would we survive driving all the way to Florida?  I'm leaning towards no, but you never know!
George Washington Bridge in New York  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
The George Washington Bridge in New York

I am thrilled to report that my son won a bronze medal for sparring in Taekwondo for his weight and belt division!  My heart just fills with pride when I think about it because he worked so hard and he was quite humble when he received his medal.
Bronze Medalist at 2016 National Taekwondo Championships | 3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Bronze Medalist at the 2016 National Taekwondo Championships

Did you take a road trip this year?
Leave a comment and share your adventure with us!