Posts in “Family”

Star Wars Family Halloween 2020 + DIY costumes

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Happy Halloween! It’s been more than 3 months that I haven’t updated this blog. Sorry, things got busy in our family as my husband and I became licensed foster parents and got our first placement a couple months ago 🙂 Anyway, I thought to update my blog today since it’s Halloween again! If you know, we enjoy wearing costumes with our kids (see our last year’s family costume here,) I think it’s a fun way to build memories with them!

My husband chose Star Wars as the theme for our family Halloween costume this year. He’s a fan of this movie but I’m not. BUT, I know that my husband and the boys are excited to be in the Star Wars character for Halloween so no questions asked.

Dressing up for Halloween is fun but I have to be mindful in spending since there will be 6 people who need costumes. Handmade or DIY costumes are a great way to save up your money. But of course, if you are not into making your own costume, I found sites where you can find and purchase these character costumes. I will link the site below.

The first costume that I made is R2D2 for my second son.

Using a plant stand, I used an exercise ball and covered it with a garbage plastic bag to do paper mache (it was probably 4 layers). Aluminum foil for silver material on R2D2’s head, you can also use metallic spray paint.

I found random stuff in the house (warning: I’m a plastic container / lid hoarder). I used plastic small cups, laundry lids and milk formula lids.  Too much junk right!?  I also added a small headlight on the lower part of the head to get that R2D2 headlight that he has.

I attached a helmet inside so it’s easy to wear around while trick or treating. And if you are curious if the costume are heavy, my son runs wearing them lol 


I used a wire fence (?) that we use for our garden to create the R2D2’s body. We found this drywall tarp cover in a construction site near us and used it to cover the entire wire surface.  The only blue material that I have at home is this blue stripe paper bag  and use it to decorate the R2D2’s body. I used my guitar holder straps to hold the costume so my son can carry them around easily.


It might look junky but as long as it looks R2D2, that will work for one night 😉 

Total cost: $0

Next costume is for my eldest son as C3PO…

I have to spend golden fabric for this costume and a few other things. I started to sew his costume and used my son’s pajamas to get a pattern for the long sleeves and pants

I found this chestplate from Dollar Store and added the rounded part using lids from milk formula, green olives and milk. And then, painted it with white acrylic paint as a primer to pop out the gold color. I used gold acrylic paint to finish the accessory. Again, you can use spray paint if you prefer.

Don’t forget the gloves! I traced my son’s hands but the pattern was too small for his hand when the gloves were done. I tried my hand size and it worked perfectly for him.

I used a scrap black fabric to complete the look and used colorful pipe wires to portray C3P0’s costume. I found a C3PO mask  and Amazon was nice to let me keep it since the mask was so dusty when it arrived.

He’s very into it, don’t you think!? 😉

Total Cost: less than $10

Okay, let’s proceed to my third son.. Whoa! so many boys here haha! 

Nothing much to explain here, very simple costume for Yoda. I used my jacket for this photo but I ended up using a beige Thai pants that my husband got from Thailand before. For the mask,  I decided to purchase a Yoda mask since they love wearing masks around the house. But I actually wish I could just make DIY ears, it’s easy to make and you can find a tutorial on Youtube.

Yoda is ready to harvest some veggies. 

Total cost: $23

Next costume is for our foster daughter, Baby L! I’m glad that she’s with us in fun times! She’s our little Ewok.

I found a baby bonnet tutorial on Youtube and stitched these ears that I found in a thrift store (it came from a winter hat). For the brown fabric, I used an old cloth bag  and added some details using embroidery thread and cotton rope. I also added a weapon on the side using scrap fabric and filled it up with pillow stuffing.

She is adorable! We are very blessed and thankful that she’s here. My kids love her!

And Yoda, too!

Costume cost: $2.99 

Next costume is for my husband, Darth Maul.

Brent is wearing his black jacket with a hoodie.  I used a black curtain fabric and created a hole for the neck. We are too cheap to buy the real costume and even the real weapon, that’s why I only tape the lightsaber swords together and painted them red. My husband wasn’t happy with that but I asked him “Do you wanna spend and buy new ones?”, he didn’t answer he’s happy in the end 😉

I face painted my husband’s face but I told him I don’t like the small horns since it looks scary and also, that will be a lot of work to do  lol

Total cost: $2

Lastly, here’s my Star Wars character – Aayla Secura. My husband chose this character for me. If you ask me who this character is, I really don’t know. All I know is that she needs more fabric for her costume 😉

For the headpiece. I tried to use fabric paint but it didn’t work. I ended up using fabric and sew to make the shape.

I used egg cartons for the ears and covered them with blue fabric.

The colors are not exactly as Aayla Secura’s headpiece. I only use what I have at home except for the blue fabric that I got from a local fabric shop of my friend.


My costume cost: $20

NERD!!! haha


Here are the ready-made costumes for Star Wars, if you don’t have time to make one:

R2D2 Costume for Infant

R2D2 Costume for kids

C3PO costume with mask

C3PO mask only 

Yoda mask

Yoda costume for babies

Yoda costume for kids

Ewok costume

Darth Maul Costume

Aayla Secura (headpiece)


I hope you enjoy reading this post and inspire you. Happy Halloween from Smith family!



Making Good, Messy Memories!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

This post is sponsored by all® laundry detergent. #allLaundryPartner

I learned to paint when I was in college getting my BA in Fine Arts. I’ve always enjoyed painting – it’s fun and there are always new techniques and styles to learn. But as a mom of small three boys, it can be challenging and stressful to paint with kids. Messy hands, messy house, messy clothes…oh boy lol. When I think about the mess, it holds me back from  enjoying art time with my kids. But as my husband once told me, it’s important to let kids try new things – even messy things! –  in order for them to explore and learn about art. 

I’m thrilled that I teamed up with all® laundry detergent to bring you a fun and messy painting activity for the family that helps children explore art and makes good memories for the kids. all®  laundry detergent is the detergent our family has used ever since we started our family. I love how this brand focuses on putting family first and encourages parents to create messy moments without fear. Parents don’t need to worry: it’s “all good”, because all® laundry detergent is there to help clean up our messy kids’ clothes!

For today’s art time, we did a yarn painting activity where I covered the canvas using painter’s tape and let the kids use yarn instead of paint brushes to paint the canvas with water based paint. I had the kids dip their yarn into the paint (we used washable paints), then sling it or drag on it the canvas. As if this wasn’t messy enough, I also let them use their hands 😉 

This was a really messy activity, but I had confidence that all® stainlifter® OXI liquid detergent would keep my laundry bright and fresh since it fights 100% of stain types (*bleachable, oily/waxy, enzymatic, particulate). This detergent works effectively even in cold water, and can also be used for pre-treating by rubbing a small amount on a stain before washing.

My kids love activities that create a mess… My eldest son told me “I love this messy painting mom!”. Messy activities are okay sometimes because they can help kids learn about art while also making good memories for them. 

I love how all® laundry detergent allows me to put life before laundry™ and enjoy these kinds of moments as times to treasure for the future and worry about the mess later.

Art projects or activities with the kids are not the time to be perfectionists. Instead, enjoy the moment you and your kids are building. Go and try all® stainlifter® OXI liquid detergent available in Amazon for your next messy activity with your kids.

 What kind of messy kid projects do you have in mind?


Gift Guide For Dads

Monday, June 8, 2020

 We know that not all gifts are equal for loving dads out there. So I hope today’s post about gifts for dads can help you out if you are still hunting for something for Father’s day.  I asked some mothers to share their ideas about Father’s Day gifts, whether past gifts or ideas for this year. These moms also share what they admire about their husbands as dads.

Gift Idea #1 Charcoal Grill 

Savannah says “I got this for my husband, Brenton a few years ago and it is perfect for camping, picnics, tailgating and even the backyard”.

What do you admire in your husband as a father? My husband is the perfect balance of tenderness and sternness for our girls; he is such a strong leader who loves so well!”


Gift Idea #2 Camping Hammock

Karla B. says “We got a hammock for father’s day 8 years ago and Josef has gotten sooooo much use out of it. All the boys get excited when dad sets it up, climb in the hammock to chill and relax. He tells them stories and makes them laugh. This hammock is lightweight and comfy! The eno brand has fun accessories too that we have gotten over the years for father’s day gifts. We got him these hammock lights one year and this year we will get him the bug net for it ”.

What do you admire in your husband as a father? The thing I admire most about my husband in his ‘father role’ is that he loves to spend time with his 4 boys; he takes them camping, bike riding, to the beach, spends hours playing basketball and baseball with them, has devotionals with them in the mornings…you name it he does it! Josef is one of 4 brothers and when you see him with his sons, you see him in his element. He knows how to speak to them, instruct/counsel them, he is honest with them and tells them his struggles and pitfalls in life. My husband teaches them to be strong Godly men and to be bold followers of Jesus”.


Gift Idea #3 Men Shoes

Lesley says “These shoes are so classic, well made, and can be dressed up or down. My husband wears them when he teaches students 8 hours a day, wears them to church as well and even just to check the mail.”

What do you admire in your husband as a father? I admire how well he connects with Willow and that he does such a good job caring for her. He takes care of her all summer when I’m gone working 12 hour shifts plus commuting…. he can do everything for her that I can do except nursing haha. He knows her personality and moods so well and can tell if she’s not feeling or behaving normally (which is very helpful since I work long shifts). His years of teaching experience helps him engage her in play and teaching her things like cleaning up, reading books and talking.”


Gift Idea #4 Water Guns

Jenn Morrison says “I love a sentimental gift but my husband is more about experiences. We’re a very active family so there’s nothing better than a good old fashion water gun fight! Leave a note with the water gun loaded telling him to come find you!”

What do you admire in your husband as a father? My husband is such an honorable man who always puts his family first. He’s constantly trying to find fun things for us to do and changed his hobbies to be things that include us. We fixed up an old Jeep to take mudding and on the beach, we ride dirt bikes and skate boards together, and love to plan trips to different places with our boys.”


Gift Idea #5 Cordless Drill/Driver and Impact Combo Kit

Joy Leslie says “My husband loves the Dewalt drill set that I gave to him. He loves to build things that I would like to have to hang in the house or build things that will make my plants beautiful to hang, or even climb onto. It makes him happy to see that I’m happy  with the things that we accomplish together in our little projects that we come with”

What do you admire in your husband as a father? “He always put his kids first and myself before anything else. One thing I admire him most is he got a big heart to everyone! He always love to help.  I am very blessed to have him in my life and father of our 3 boys”.


Here are more gift ideas from my past gift guide post for Father; Gift idea under $30 / Gifts For Him


Happy Father’s day to all dads out there especially to my loving and understanding husband, Brent.


Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26


April Recap: family, our first garden and my kid’s favorite learning activities

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Tomorrow is the last day of April. I thought to share for today’s post on what we’ve done this month during the time of quarantine, how we celebrated a couple of special events like Easter and my birthday and a few personal DIY projects that I did. I rarely share personal posts about me and my family here on my blog, maybe because I prefer to share them on my Instagram and/or in person. So here’s our month of April recap!

Easter Sunday, my youngest son’s first official egg hunting in the backyard. We used our backyard to hide plastic eggs (with raisins and Cheerios inside) for the boys. Our garden was a great place to hide eggs as well.


Easter activity, it’s all about Jesus. After we worshiped via online, the kids have coloring activities that focus on Jesus.

We do schooling in the morning. Here’s my daily routine schedule with my three boys if you’d like to try to set up a schedule with your kids.

My 4 year old son is learning how to write numbers. He enjoys math, like Dada.

Finding letters/words. We use Duplo lego blocks.

I made a chart for “days of the week” and a “weather chart”. Every morning, I ask each of my eldest kids to update these charts.

Little Archaeologists.  My boys tried this for the first time. All you have to do is to put random toys in a large bowl and cover them with water and freeze it. They love doing it but as a mom, I’m a little worried because they have to use pointed metal like screwdrivers to break the ice..imagine there are three little hands :/

Watercolor painting. I asked them if they want to follow a tutorial or paint on their own. Guess what they chose? Hint: Abstract

“Spring” painting using acrylic and fork

Here’s our first garden. Brent planted okra, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, green beans, watermelon, snap peas, peppers, cilantro and four kinds of tomatoes. Brent loves tomatoes so much! And of course, all plants are taken care of by my husband.. Me and my kids are just here to water the garden 😉

Bedtime story with Dada.

Cardboard DIY hot wheels, tutorial here

I’ve been doing a lot of hobbies and DIY projects to try. I think the West Elm Inspired area rug for my boy’s bedroom is my favorite project.

And my second favorite DIY for my boys is the cardboard playhouse.

I don’t remember if I posted here this oil painting that I’ve been working on since the beginning of last year 😉 Not all done… but we will get there 🙂 You can watch this painting process on my Instagram story highlights called “painting”, you will see how I started it.

April is my birthday month and this is how I celebrated my birthday; folding little clothes 😉 Since my birthday month is during COVID-19 pandemic, we are all at home except for Brent who needs to go to work. And hey, I had Pad Thai and chocolate cake. That’s all I want for my birthday 😉 


See you next month!




A look back at 2019 + Family Update

Monday, December 30, 2019

window activity

It’s time to make my youngest son’s silhouette painting. see tutorial here

we did a mini spring photoshoot theme. we also invited some of our friends to join in.


skateboard after work

Easter egg hunt. My youngest son’s first time to do Easter egg hunting.

This was the activity we do in Easter Sunday. We also read a children’s Bible.

toddler walk

We love outdoor

This 2019, we moved to our own first house! Thanks to God <3

Swimming lesson last summer

Backyard is more fun if it is muddy 😉

more backyard fun!

and more… with my sampayan 😉

they love this pool i saw in amazon. You can find it here

breastfeeding journey with my youngest son. It was the longest journey so it was really hard to say goodbye.

eldest son turned 5. check his birthday photos here

and then my second son turned 4. He loves green Ninjago…

and lastly my youngest son turned 2. He loves Daniel Tiger so his birthday theme is all about Daniel and his friends. Hopefully. I could create a blog post about the theme this year. There were DIYs like birthday mask, cupcake toppers and more.

And yes, one of their stuffed animal toys also had a birthday….welcome to my life, y’all.


I was excited to go back in oil painting. I did this floral for my mom-in-law. I never painted flowers before so it’s challenging and fun at the same time.


We are the parents. Normal vs Halloween Mode. Also, my husband just launched his first Youtube channel called Parentpsych to share some tips and advice as child psychologist. Please please subscribe and share his videos <3

Halloween photos here

learning the letter S

My second son being “quiet”. His Kuya started his Kindergarten in Fall so it was quite different here everyday. BUT this second semester, Brent and I decided to homeschool our kindergarten (Please pray for us… and my patience 😉 ) We love the school and the people there but we think that 7-8 hours is way too long for 5 years old. What happened to half day?

another painting I did this 2019. It’s for my children’s playroom makeover. See the final work here 

I know, i know, I’m getting too old. Needlepointing for my children’s Christmas stockings. If you see a lady needlepointing inside the car, in the parking area, school, playground, clinic, that’s me.

Merry Christmas to all of you! See you next year!

“When He tells you what His plans are, trust Him and walk closely with Him. Don’t let the busyness of your present activity keep you from experiencing all that God has in store for you”


Gifts For Him

Friday, December 6, 2019

It’s another year of gift giving this Christmas! Have you started shopping for presents yet? Or maybe a list of gift ideas for your loved ones such as the men in your life? Men can be hard to shop for and if you’re feeling the same, you are not alone 🙂 I asked my husband, Brent, to share his wish list, for lack of a better term. He really likes quality above everything else and rarely buys impulsively.  If you know someone like him who shares the same principle, check out the list for quality gifts for the men in your life.


  1. Bullet Grid Journal

Journaling is probably more of a woman’s thing but it doesn’t mean guys won’t enjoy it, too. My husband tracks his goals using his bullet journal. He enjoys making his own schedule and goals in different charts/columns. It’s not only for journaling but it can also be used for doodling and drawing. A perfect way to start 2020!

2. Qalo Silicone Wedding Ring

If your man is active, likes to swim, works out and prefers not to wear his ring on his finger, I recommend to get a durable silicone ring. Both of us have one and we love it so much! It’s comfortable to wear without the worry of losing or scratching it.

3. Klean Kanteen insulated tumbler 

Whether he’s a coffee lover, tea lover, or just hydrates eight times a day, this reusable tumbler is a good one to carry! It’s totally insulated and will keep your drinks fresh all day long. 

4. Hammock

Laying in a  hammock might be one of the best forms of relaxation ever. This hammock comes with plenty of colors to choose from. It can be used for two  and perfect for tall people as well. 

5. adidas Hat

If your man is a hat lover, better check out this hat collection from adidas. Whether for sports, hiking, or  just city strolling, it’s the hat to wear without sacrificing style. I own one from their women’s collection and it fits perfectly and comfortably.

6. adidas training top

A lightweight top for men even when they’re not super athletic. It can be worn for workouts, strolling, or while running errands. It’s made from moisture-wicking fabric that’s comfortable and drying even on extra busy days.

women’s hoodie sweatshirt

I hope this list can help you and make your gift searching easy. Let’s face it! Shopping for men can be a real challenge. 

  How about you? What are your gift ideas for the men (husband, father, brother, etc) in your life?


In partnership with adidas. Thanks for supporting the brands that make my blog possible.



Family Halloween Costume: The Hobbit

Friday, November 1, 2019

This year my husband was the one in charge to pick what theme we’ll do for Halloween since I chose the costume from last year . He was always keen to do The Hobbit since he wants to be Gandalf (Hello Lord of the Rings fans!). It was such a fun, messy, and challenging experience to prepare our costumes. I tried my best not to spend for the materials as much as possible. I mainly had to buy the wig and ears since I don’t know how to make them from scratch.

Here are some behind-the-scene images I took from weeks of preparation. I hope you enjoy, get inspired, and learn something from it! 🙂

I’m thankful that there was a week when my mother-in-law was in town so she taught me how to sew the kids’ cloak and Gandalf costumes. I found all the fabrics in a thrift store. The cloak is  mostly made from window curtains.

DIY Gandalf costumes using an old bed sheet.

DIY Gandalf Hat. I used cereal boxes and wrapped an old pillowcase with a different fabric.

Testing the Gandalf hat.

My husband loves Halloween…

Gandalf Beard. It was made of wool which means it can be pretty messy….it shredded a lot, so beware.😉

Brent told me to use my hairspray to lessen the shredding. I used a mix of water and Elmer’s glue instead. I don’t want to use my nice hairspray you know? 😉

For the hobbit feet, I used their own shoes to mold to create the hobbit feet. These are made of paper and I finished it with a brush of  mixed water and Elmer’s glue.

Fun part! Painting! To add some hair, I used black threads and trimmed it into small pieces.

Our friend Clint of @boyd.woodshop helped us create these cool wooden swords for our kids!

The cute vest was from old button shirts.

The only DIY for myself is the headpiece of Galadriel.

My husband told me that I’m the dark elf version, so I did my makeup in a lighter way 😉 My dress was given by Susan from our church. I found the shawl in thrift store and used an accessory that came from my wedding dress. Thanks to Photoshop for my colored eyes 😉

So thankful for thrift stores! There are many things that I found that made these Halloween costumes less expensive, yet creative. 


These are the links if you’d like to see where we found these items:

Elf ears

Galadriel Wig

Light Ball for Gandalf Staff


Happy Halloween! Stay warm in this cold weather!



Birthday party at Schlitterbahn Galveston

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Photographed by Drew

When your kid’s birthday is during the hottest season, hanging out in the water is the most ideal way to enjoy the party. My family and I are excited to be back at Schlitterbahn again since we had such a fun time last year! This summer we had the chance to enjoy our day at the waterpark with some of our friends as we celebrated our youngest son’s second birthday.  I partnered with Schlitterbahn on today’s post to share our experience and show how exciting it is to celebrate a birthday at Schlitterbahn!  

Although “exciting” and “wonderful” are the first words that come to mind when thinking of a birthday at Schlitterbahn, another good word is “convenient.” The birthday package at Schlitterbahn made the whole day easy and stress free. We loved that everything we needed was ready when we arrived, including a private cabana and everything needed for the party. Right in front of our cabana was Tiki Tikes, a wonderful play area for kids with slides, shallow wading water, and lifeguards. It was super convenient for myself and my friends, as we had several toddlers in the group, and could easily keep an eye on them as we chit-chatted in the shade. The lifeguards were very  attentive and made us parents feel safe. 

The slightly older kids in our group (ages4-6) enjoyed water slides, the lazy river, and the Whitewater river, where they loved riding down the rapids on floats (which are freely provided by the waterpark). Although my 2-year-old was too young to ride on the bigger rides we kept coming back to –  like the “Wolfpack” and “Thunder Tub” – it was okay, since he could play with the other small children on the Tiki Tikes play area while our friends kept an eye on him. We traded off watching the youngest kids frequently during the day, which worked great: while one couple relaxed in the shade for a bit, other parents and older kids went and rode the amazing rides scattered throughout the park.

Our view from the cabana. So relaxing!

I personally love the Wolfpack (I call it the pink ride haha). It’s such an exciting and fun ride for the whole family! And the view of the park from the top is beautiful. The park was not overly crowded, either. Perhaps that is because we went on a Monday. Both times we have come to Schlitterbahn it has been on weekdays, and we have never felt that there were too many people there. Pro tip: Come right when the park opens at 10, and there will be almost no lines at all for the first hour!

My friends Brittany and Karla, both moms of all boys! There were so many boys that day, all very loud and active 😉

Birthday parties aren’t complete without sweet treats…right!? 😉 Guys, this was my first time to try Dippin Dots ice cream, and it was the best! After being outdoors all day, a cup of ice-cold Dippin Dots was a great way to refresh and re-energize.! For those of you who have never had them, Dippin Dots are tiny, frozen beads of ice cream, yogurt, and flavored ice. Kids grabbed flavors like “Rainbow Ice”, “Banana Split” (my favorite; yes I kept eating it out of my kid’s cup haha) and “Cookies ‘n Cream”. There were several Dippin Dots kiosks around the waterpark which were easy to spot. 

Aside from ice cream, our birthday package also include waterproof tattoos. All the kids were thrilled about and these, and enjoyed picking the designs they liked! The kiosk is located in the gift and shopping area of Schlitterbahn.

We don’t give our boys sweets too often, and certainly not a giant cupcakes full of frosting, but hey – it’s your birthday 😉 Happy birthday to my sweet 2 year old son!

It was so nice to have a birthday party that all ages loved, that was stress-free and super convenient, and that was both exciting and relaxing depending on if we were riding thrilling rides or relaxing in the shade with ice cream! This trip only confirmed that Schlitterbahn is the perfect destination for all ages. It is family-friendly and great for kids from toddlers to teenagers. Check out all the attractions and rides here, and reserve a spot for your next  birthday party at Schlitterbahn! 

Photographed by Drew


In partnership with Schlitterbahn Galveston. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.


Welcome to Hello Island Mama! I love to share about motherhood, makeup, DIYs, home styling and faith. Based in Houston, Texas. Originally from Philippines. Thank you for your time to read and don't forget to subscribe above! - Em

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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