Tuesday, May 28, 2013

End of the Year Goals, Celebrating Star Wars-Style

Mr. One is a reading machine.  He has his face buried in a book at least half of the day.  I have even threatened to take his books away as punishment because he gets so distracted when he has something new to read.  Loving to read is not his problem, but having him remember to take his AR tests in class (this is a reading comprehension program that the school uses) to meet his goals has been a challenge.  Until we realized how badly he wanted to watch the Star Wars movies. 

Our agreement was that for each quarter of the school year that he met or exceeded his point goal, he could watch an episode of Star Wars.  He very quickly started to meet his AR goals, and ended up having the most AR points in his class!  He finished the year with 78 AR points. 

Since the original movies are a trilogy, we weren't sure what to do about the final quarter of school.  Eventually we decided that, even if Mike and I aren't really fond of The Phantom Menace, Episode 1, the boys would like it.  Mr. One met his goal and we watched Episode 1 on Saturday. 

Mr. One and Mr. Two have been anticipating our movie night for weeks.  In school, Mr. Two has been making paper "tickets" to use for the movie.  I have found lots and lots of little colorful squares of paper, cut with decorative edge scissors in his shorts pockets (and in the dryer ;)).

 Mr. One and Mr. Two spent a good chunk of the day making bags for collecting tickets and signs for the movie, that they cheerfully taped around the living room.  So, after dinner and showers/baths, we got ready for movie night.  I popped some popcorn using the paper bag trick (Awesome! just put 1/4 cup popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag, fold down top and secure with a piece of tape, then set your microwave like you would for regular microwave popcorn.), burned and tossed the first few bags (still haven't gotten the hang of the new microwave), finally got it right, then sprinkled generously with salt and melted butter.  Along with the popcorn, we let everyone pick out a few movie sweets, then snuggled onto the couch to watch Star Wars together. 

(In case you can't read this, the brown bags say, "ticket collector" and "money collector".)

The boys loved every minute.  Even better, Mr. Three fell asleep before the scary fight scenes started.  I may have taken a little nap while the movie was playing, too.  I was a little sad that I missed the ET's cameo.  It was a fun way to celebrate Mr. One's hard work this year.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ice Cream Dough

This summer, I have a plan:  work first, then play.  Simple enough, right?  We are going to do chores together and some "homework" first, then we will play.  I am going to try to do at least one fun activity with my kids each day, a simple science experiment, a game, an outing, so forth.  Nothing elaborate or overwhelming.  I want my kids to enjoy this break we have together, but I don't want to be stressed about making everything a big production.  They help me around the house, then I have
more time to set up some extra activities.  Sounds good.   Hopefully it will work.

Friday was the first day of summer for us.  We woke up and pulled weeds (well, I did most of the pulling, but I intended on the boys helping...).

 In the afternoon, we made ice cream dough to play with (1 1/2 cups cornstarch and 3/4 cups hair conditioner).  I used a strawberry conditioner and some red food coloring for strawberry ice cream, put some bead "sprinkles" in a cup, and pulled out an ice cream play set I found at Ikea.

 The three oldest Mr.'s enjoyed taking imaginary ice cream orders and molding the dough into the cones and cups.

(Mr. Four entertained himself with empty backpacks.)

I loved watching them at their imaginary play, and joined in the fun a bit.  This dough is really fun to play with, messy but fun.  As I was taking some pictures, Mr. One tells me, "Mom, come take a picture of this."

I look over at his creation, a bit puzzled.  He then explains, "Look, it's Darth Ice Cream!"

And Star Wars takes over again.  Sigh.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Being a mother of four young boys and the wife of a bishopric member means that I do not have very high expectations for Mother's Day.  On any given Sunday, if we make it out the door, dressed and at least faking the smile on our faces before church is scheduled to begin, I consider that a victory.  Add in the pressure of Mother's Day, and well, it could lead to disaster.

I woke up to a cold piece of grape jelly-slathered toast on a napkin, inscribed with an I love you from Mr. One.  It would have been a warm piece of toast had I actually gotten out of bed the first time I heard noises in the kitchen telling me my brood was up and moving.  I ate it with a smile on my face and a thank you on my lips, even if it wasn't my breakfast of choice.  Mr. One's happiness at serving me was worth every bite.

The next happy spot in my day came as I opened the cards and handmade gifts from my children.  The hugs and kisses, the smudgy I love you's and adorable stick people, the art projects based on the colors of Jengo Fett...

I even had Mike home by mid-morning, instead of the all-morning usual meetings, which was a fantastic present for me, and for the boys as well.

We made a massive mess all over the kitchen table making cards for our grandmas, and ate lunch together. 

Then Mike had to head off to church a bit early.  As he left, everyone was smiling, calm, happy to be together.  All that was left was to put on church clothes and do a bit of kitchen clean up.  No problem, I thought.  With a pointed reminder to get ready and listen to Mom from Mike to the boys, the door shut and this is what I had to face.

Mr. One threw a fit because I said no to adding Nutella to his Millenium Falcon-shaped cookie after lunch.

I angrily told Mr. Two that he was ruining my Mother's Day because he refused to get out of his pj's and get his Sunday clothes on for church.  We were late.  He got back at me by refusing to get up with the rest of the children in church to sing a special mother's day song.  He hid under the bench.

Mr. Three was jumping off of the pew during the singing that only one of my children decided to participate in (at least Mr. One wanted to serenade his grumpy mom).  As he jumped off for the fifth or so time (ignoring my not so subtle at this point pleas/threats to cut it out), he fell and hit his face, cried and gave me that "it's your fault look".

Mr. Four was gleefully throwing crunched up pieces of Chex cereal all over the carpet under our pew, fussing when I attempted to take them away for good.

My beautiful corsage fell apart by the beginning of the second hour of church.  Pink rose petals all over the floor, from being handled by my children... 

I was able to visit and eat some yummy dessert before the Relief Society lesson, mainly because I was feeding Mr. Four chocolate and fruit so he was happy to stay put.  I didn't actually sit and listen to any of the lessons because I spent the majority of the time chasing Mr. Four around the halls, keeping him off of the stairs to the stage, washing his sticky fingers so he wouldn't gum up the entire church, etc., all the while wearing very high heels that didn't seem all that uncomfortable at the beginning of church, but by the end were the worst idea ever.

At dinner with my family, I joked to Mike that the best part of Mother's Day was right then, because we were eating on the floor of my brother's home and our kids were sitting at the table with my siblings, not next to us.  Oh, to eat a meal next to my husband, without anyone sitting on my lap...

All joking aside, I recognize that to be a mother is a tremendous blessing.  And I readily acknowledge that I could not do it on my own.  I have a loving Heavenly Father who guides me every day, and lifts me up.  I have a wonderful husband by my side, helping to raise our four happy, healthy, active boys.  I have an amazing mother myself to look to for advice and encouragement.  I am a mother, I am far from perfect, I don't always love every moment, but I do love my children and consider "mother" to be the most beautiful title I will ever bear.  Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Laundry Fun?

Saturday is laundry day at our house, but Monday is actually-finish-and-put-away-the-laundry day.  An empty laundry basket is a magical thing to a young boy.  It can transform into a race car, zooming down the track to the checkered flag finish.  It can be a giant holding pen for a zoo of stuffed animals to an eager zoo keeper.  It can be a tobaggan, pushed across the slick tiled floor at top speed, either to the glee or terror of the rider.  This Monday it was a jail. 

Mr. Three chased poor Mr. Four around my bedroom, attempting to trap him with the empty laundry basket.  Every time my one year old sat down, thump! went the laundry basket, trapping him inside, while his captor peered through the holes and smiled. 

While I repeatedly told Mr. Three that his little brother didn't seem to enjoy this game quite as much as he did, it continued.  And I admit, I found it quite funny.  I know I encouraged it when I brought out the camera.  However, I think I made it up to Mr. Four by letting him trap his older brother for a little taste of his own medicine! 

Mr. Four thought that this reversal was quite entertaining.  I think even Mr. Three enjoyed it, too.  Oh the simple joys of being little.  Now, I need to get back to hanging up the last of the clean shirts...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Star Wars Day

Saturday was Star Wars Day, you know, "May the fourth be with you"...

My boys woke up at the crack of dawn.  Literally.  They were that excited.

They put on their Star Wars tees and wanted to bust out the Legos as soon as possible, creating their own Star Wars worlds all over the dining room table.

They reluctantly paused and cleaned up to eat breakfast.  Luckily it was a breakfast served with whipped cream, so the complaining was kept at a minimum.

They also had a blast playing Lego Star Wars on the wii and other games on the Lego website.  In fact, they would have been happy playing all day if we had let them.  However, we had Mr. One's soccer game to attend and some errands to run.  No worries, because I was armed with Star Wars fruit snacks for the boys to enjoy at the game.  I think Mr. Three spent more time studying the box than watching his brother play soccer.

I also set up a little scavenger hunt for the boys in the afternoon to break up the game playing.  I found the general idea here and decided I could easily adapt it to fit our Star Wars theme.  They donned their Star Wars gear, and I hid Mr. Three's toys, along with clues around the house.  Ending the hunt, they were lead outside to free Han Solo from his carbonite prison.  (The carbonite was baking soda and colored water, molded around a Han Solo action figure and left to dry out overnight.)  I was hoping the carbonite would end up with a grayer hue, but I guess I was a bit heavy-handed on the green food coloring.  They gleefully trapped Darth Vader in a plastic container and used their light sabers (medicine syringes filled with vinegar), to free Han, giggling at the foaming reaction as they worked.  They loved this and asked if we could do it again, but, could we please freeze Darth instead of the hero next time.

To reward their hard work, we gave them light sabers (glow sticks) and Darth Vader candy filled eggs (thank you to a great friend for finding those for us). 

We giggled as we watched some funny Star Wars related videos (thanks to a fun auntie for finding them).

They went to bed humming "Luke's Theme" and the "Imperial March", dreaming of Tie Fighters and X-Wings, using the Force and destroying the Death Star.

In truth, the boys had so much interest invested in this holiday of sorts, that they would have considered it a good day without Mike or I doing anything but playing along.  But, with a little extra effort and a pinch of planning, we really made it a special day.  And so often, it is the little things that make all the difference.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May the Forth Be With You...

In case you were wondering, today is Star Wars day.  
You know, May the Fourth be with you...
We have plans, oh yes, we have plans.  
My two oldest are plotting big things, and when we asked them what they wanted to do, they just said to wait and see how it unfolds.  
Oh boy!  
If you need a little crafty inspiration, check out my Star Wars Pinterest board.  (I can't believe I even have this...)  
Here's a little teaser of what we may be using on this most exciting day.

Oh, and on an unrelated note, strawberries, whipped cream and overnight french toast is an awesome breakfast!  

My favorite recipe for Creme Brulee French toast here or a lighter version, which is still good, Carmel French Toast here.