Friday, May 23, 2014

Boredom Busters

Day ONE of summer: I already feel crazy. I won't go into detail-- because right now I'm not in the frame of mind to be able to do that without complaining about my kids' whining and such. Seriously, today's post could be called "Qaptain Mommypants and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."

So before I babble on and on about how I hate to hear the words "I'm bored," here's what you can expect in this list of Boredom Busters:

Nothing crazy, nothing gender-exclusive (so each idea can appeal to both of my kids), nothing TOO messy (we hope), nothing costly, nothing labor-intensive on my part, nothing requiring extensive planning, nothing dangerous...nothing annoying.

There are lots of activities that do not belong in a list like this-- things like going swimming, going anywhere as a family, playing computer games or watching a TV show-- because I assume that will be happening anyway. While some things may take more preparation/cost/involvement depending on which Mom is helping which kids, these are supposed to be relatively quick fixes for Boredom.

Reminiscent of the Ghostbusters - this is our container of little folded strips of paper for each idea on the list. Shake the container, close your eyes and pull out a strip of paper. The goal is to attempt the very first idea you pick, not to sift through until you find a favorite...but some days that may be necessary.


THE LIST OF [83] BOREDOM BUSTERS:


  • create sculptures with toothpicks and marshmallows
  • create sculptures with popsicle sticks and glue
  • make a storybook 
  • make pictures with cut-out pieces of paper
  • make a craft from the Childcraft Make and Do book
  • read a book
  • paint a picture
  • sculpt something out of clay and bake it
  • play with play-dough
  • draw a map of the house or yard
  • dig for buried treasure in a spot Mom says is okay
  • make pictures with things found in nature 
  • draw pictures on the patio with chalk
  • play games (like hopscotch, foursquare) with chalk 
  • make a costume
  • create and perform a play
  • make sock puppets or paper bag puppets
  • ask Mom for hair gel and make up goofy hair styles
  • have a little picnic in the backyard
  • ask Dad if you can set up the tent
  • learn something on the piano
  • read an Encyclop√¶dia article 
  • learn an origami craft
  • ask Mom if you can make a treat together
  • play with water balloons in the yard
  • take a bubble bath
  • make a paper-animal zoo
  • dance to music
  • ask Dad to help you compose a song
  • write a letter to someone
  • ask Mom if you can call someone on the phone
  • play the organ with headphones
  • ask Mom to make some Goo-Bleck
  • make a race car track with tape
  • ask Mom if you can play Popcorn Games
  • put a puzzle together
  • draw a picture and cut it into a puzzle and put it together
  • do an act of service for someone
  • make a river out of tinfoil in the backyard
  • ask Mom if you can make handprint art
  • ask Mom if you can play with finger-paint
  • make a balloon-powered LEGO car with Dad
  • build a blanket fort/tent in your room
  • make a LEGO marble maze
  • ask Dad if he can help you build a cardboard box maze
  • make a house/castle/building out of a cereal box
  • ask Mom if you can make a cardboard box craft
  • ask Mom if you can make a fan-duvet bubble-tent
  • ask Mom to make Cloud Dough
  • ask Mom if you can make thumbprint art
  • make a hovercraft
  • make and play with a homemade sprinkler
  • ask Mom if you can play with paint-in-a-bag
  • learn a phrase in a different language
  • make a solar system mobile
  • learn the names of the bones of your skeleton
  • learn the names of your guts and innards
  • learn how to tell time
  • practice riding a bike
  • read a scripture story
  • draw a scripture story
  • learn how to make a meal
  • practice using measuring cups and cooking tools
  • draw on the dry-erase board
  • make tinfoil sculptures
  • record yourself singing a song
  • ask Dad to make a video with you
  • learn how to make a smoothie
  • make a LEGO video
  • make a story with photos for pictures
  • record yourself telling a story
  • ask Mom if you can play with a microphone
  • learn to crochet (at least make a chain stitch)
  • write in your journal
  • memorize a poem
  • memorize a scripture
  • find special rocks and draw faces on them
  • design and make a mobile
  • make a mailbox for family notes
  • make a paper aquarium box/mobile/wall
  • ask Dad if you can launch a bottle-rocket
  • use a lamp to make shadow puppets
  • make a string spider web and paper spider/bugs


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Adorable Kindergarten Studies

We are ALL so glad that school is over. I have really delighted in looking through the drawings Ender has brought home all year. I have a HUGE stack saved for scanning and filing! But here's a wonderful bundle of "journals" he gave me today--his last day! They are in the random order my computer decided for them and not by date. I've included captions of what he wrote purely for convenience, not to replace his adorable spelling (I'm trying not to be annoyed that his teacher corrected him...it is her job...but he's so cute).

Facts About Easter Eggs...Easter eggs are not laid eggs.

I love Winter because I get to build a snowman named Budder!

I like all the seasons because they are beautiful!

I like cats because they wash themselves.

I like pie so much! But my mom doesn't make it so much.

Emperor Penguins can't build igloos. They eat silver fish and krill or squid.

Pumpkins need water and sun to grow, to grow so much.

Spiders...When I see a spider I scream. I tell my mom. Then I trap the spider. (The next part is vaguely erased for some reason): Then my mom puts it in a jar.

(It's true...have I never shared the adventures of when we trapped and studied spiders? It was intensely creepy and surprisingly educational).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Run Back to My Mother's Arms

Dropping Ender off for school is hard for me emotionally. Almost every time. Because I remember what school felt like. I remember how sometimes it was so hard to go, to leave my comfortable home and face the day. And some days at school are really tough to get through. It's like all of those memories and feelings come up when I see Ender peek out the window of the van as we pull up to his school.
This morning, he was about to step out of the van when he jumped back and gave me a tight hug. It was a spontaneous action full of meaning. I watched him go through the school gate. But I had a harder time than usual this morning because of a song that started playing right then.
Enya's "Evacuee" from Shepherd Moons. I loved Enya growing up. And then I grew out of it. Her music really doesn't mean as much to me anymore. But I keep it around, because it happens to be one of the better solutions for my worst days; when the kids are misbehaving and I can feel myself ready to explode at them, I put on Enya to help numb away my frustrations. It works. Yesterday was just such a day, so an Enya CD was already in the van. I don't really care if you're a fan of Enya or not, since I understand either way, but let me share the lyrics of the song that played this morning, at the moment Ender jumped back to hug me:

Each time on my leaving home
I run back to my mother's arms,
one last hold and then it's over.

Watching me, you know I cry,
you wave a kiss to say goodbye,
Feel the sky fall down upon me!

All I am,
a child with promises
All I have
are miles full of promises of home.

If only I could stay with you,
my train moves on, you're gone from view,
Now I must wait until it's over.

Days will pass, your words to me,
it seems so long; eternity,
but I must wait until it's over.

The words in Enya's song really caught me off guard and surprised me in bringing up the emotions I was trying to smooth over. After the difficulty of yesterday, I was trying especially hard to be soft with my children, to remember and see their sweetness instead of focusing on little annoyances...to see their potential as children of God. A child with promises...
School is hard. It is emotionally hard for Ender sometimes, even though he is a fantastic student and enjoys his friends. It's a different world. And school is hard for me, not only because it takes away some of my illusion of "control" in Ender's life, but also because it draws a stark curtain of contrast between that world and our home world. Our home becomes ever more important as a haven for Ender. He needs to feel loved and safe here to combat the difficulties of school. Even on the best days at home, if he's had a hard day at school, it affects us all.
I suppose that's why my heart aches when I drop him off for school. I want so badly for him to have a beautiful day, to feel confident and cared for. I want so badly for his friends and teachers to see the wonderful spirit I see in him. I pray fervently every time he steps out of the van that he'll have a really happy day, that he'll be strong, that he will feel smart and be kind. Sometimes he seems like such a little boy in such a big world.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Paper Duck - Instructions for Kids



When I picked up Ender from school yesterday, there was a girl holding a little paper duck she had made. It looked pretty cute and different from a lot of paper crafts I've seen, so I decided Ender and I would try our hand at making one when we got home.
Since I did it by sight, I may have done things differently, but the outcome is pretty much the same. So here is the paper duck:


So...I used staples and tape here and there, because I get really impatient with glue.

It would probably look more Easter-worthy if it were yellow or pastel, I guess, but Ender chose blue. He also later colored spots on it to make it even more cute! Ender and Scarlett each made their own as well. I should have taken pictures before Scarlett decided it was fun to smash the paper ducks...

If you can't piece it together from looking at it (or you don't feel like it--and trust me, I'm not judging you either way), I decided to put together some instructions that hopefully kids can understand, since this is a project for children anyway. Younger children will definitely need help!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  1. scissors
  2. paper
  3. gluestick


HERE ARE THE PARTS YOU NEED TO CUT OUT FOR YOUR DUCK:
You may print and use the guideline to trace the parts onto your colored paper.
To print, right click and save image. Align paper for landscape printing.

  • White eye circles
  • Colored double-circle for behind the eyes
  • 2 feet
  • 1 bill 
  • 2 wings
  • 1 tail
  • 4 skinny strips of paper, equal in length



When making the bill/beak, fold your paper in half and line up the trace-shape so that the dotted line ("on fold") is on the folded edge of your paper. Only cut the curved line of the beak, not the dotted line on the fold. When you finish cutting, the paper will open like a mouth.

After cutting out your pieces, follow these instructions:


A. Put glue in the middle of one of the strips of paper. Lay a second strip across the glue. Try to match up the middle of the first strip with the middle of the second strip.

B. Repeat this process by putting glue in the middle of the second strip now.

C. Lay a third strip across the second one, at an angle like a piece of the letter X (again trying to match up the middle of each strip).

D. Put glue on the middle of the third strip.

E. Now place the last strip across the middle of the third strip, like the other piece of the letter X.

F. All the strips put together will now look like a + and an x laid on top of each other.

This part may be the most difficult. Look at the picture of the completed duck for reference.

A. Grab the top and bottom of the first strip you used (the ends of the vertical line). Bring the tips together and glue. Do not glue the ends to the middles of the other strips; think of the picture of the completed duck. You are making a sort of bubble-shaped body.

B. Now grab the ends of the second strip (the horizontal line). Glue the tips together on the tips of the first strip.

C. Now grab the ends of the third strip. Glue the tips together on the top of the first and second strips.

D. Now grab the ends of the last strip and glue its tips together on the top of the other strips. You may want to press the ends together while the glue dries. You have made a paper ball! This is the body of the duck.


A. Glue the eye circles onto the piece made for the back of the eyes.

B. Draw pupils on the eyes.

C. Glue the eyes onto the body (use the tab; you may want to fold the tab a little first to help the eyes stand up from the body). You may glue the eyes near the top of one of the strips or directly on top of the body.

It is starting to look more like a duck!

A. Glue the tongue inside the bill.

B. Glue the bill onto the tab that is part of the back-of-the-eyes piece.

C. Draw two little nostrils on the bill.


A. Glue the first foot underneath the body...

B. And glue the second foot underneath the body.


A. Pay attention to which side of the wing you put your glue so that the "ruffle" of feathers face the right way. Glue the first wing onto one side of the body. The wings can point up or down, or you can even fold them slightly so they stick straight out from the body.

B. Glue the second wing on the other side of the body.


A. This is the last step! Glue the tail onto the back of the duck's body, and you are finished!

With this bubble-shaped body, the paper duck is kind of bouncy and fun to toss around in your hands. Once you know how to make the body, you can be creative with the extra body parts and make all kinds of animals! What pieces would you need to make a bunny? A sheep? Or even an elephant? You can certainly branch out from typical Easter animals!







Thursday, April 10, 2014

NeverEnding Laundry

A laundry system that works, finally! I always knew I should keep up with the laundry by doing it regularly so it wouldn't turn into a resistentialistic Mount Everest of smelly underwear, old towels, socks, t-shirts and favorite jeans that have waited so long to be washed we actually start missing them ("remember those pants? Those were the days..."). But it always turned into something more like "Keeping Up With the Laundrashians," which is to say, so ridiculously unrealistic for my lifestyle.

UNTIL NOW! *said in Cinematic Baritone*

I am blessed to have a dryer. For a long time, I air-dried my clothes when we moved here and realized our gas dryer was incompatible with our house. I got used to that task enough that I didn't resent it, but it was really, really time consuming. With the help of loving friends, we finally acquired an electric dryer, and the world rejoiced. My husband rejoiced! My children rejoiced!
My overloaded hampers rejoiced!
I rejoiced too, despite the vastitude of laundering I foresaw in my immediate future. 

Then we started the dryer. 

It shrieked like a banshee. A banshee getting her toenails pulled off. 

Thus began a tradition of escaping the house in a frenzied rush every time we dried a load of laundry. Aaaand... thus continued  the tradition of falling behind in the demanding chore. It was too easy to put off doing any laundry when I knew I would either have to walk around the house like a zombie as the dryer sawed my brains into mush or leave the house and Do Something (not to mention Wear Clothes Like You Are Ready to Do Something).

But after one of my Biannual Laundry Revolution Days recently, in which I wash all the laundry in the world, I got smart. I got logical. I realized that I should coordinate my regular outings with loads of laundry (I know what you're thinking-- "she must have finally dyed her hair too, because only a blonde wouldn't figure that out")(just kidding, take it easy, blondies! I'm one of you, to an extent). Seriously, though, that's all it took. 
I leave the house AT LEAST once a week. Generally, I leave the house about 3 or 4 times a week for long enough to never hear the poor, tortured Banshee Dryer. But even during the weeks that I only leave ONCE, that is one load of laundry that will get washed and dried...and here's the cool part: it will get folded and put away, too. 
Because one load is not so intimidating. The clothes might sit in the dryer for a night. Maybe even two nights, maybe. But the clothes will get folded and put away sooner than later because that's all there is! 

You know how laundry probably inspired The NeverEnding Story just because laundry is the embodiment of the title alone? When I do laundry this way, in this pathetic little bite-sized routine, I actually get the satisfaction of finishing. 

Because I wash ONE load (while I get ready to go have fun somewhere)...

Then I dry ONE load (while I go have fun somewhere)...

Then I fold ONE load (while I enjoy watching a TV show sans guilt)...

And I put that ONE load away (while I hope that for once my daughter won't pull the clothes out of her dresser and throw them on the floor)(in which case I shove the clothes all back into her dresser because why fold a load twice?)...

And that's all there is, and somehow it's enough to keep up.

No pressure. Except to Wear Clothes Like You Are Ready to Do Something, but let's be honest...a lot of us stay-at-home moms could be more like just-usually-at-home moms.

The pregnant hampers can all wait for their staggered due dates (and I can make them go past term if I feel like it; I'm just awesomely mean like that).

UPDATE: It has been over a month since I started doing laundry this way...it is blessing my life, that's for sure. 
UPDATE 2: This method is STILL working for me! I forget sometimes to do any laundry when I'm headed out of the house, but the attitude of taking it all load by load as well as day by day has really helped me stop stressing about laundry. I believe that is called "success" in the housekeeping world...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

General Conference Preparation


I'm a little late for posting last month's "creation," but that's life. It's a fairly simple one this time as far as how much artistic thought I put into it, but it is useful and applicable! April General Conference is this weekend, and this time I really want to help the kids enjoy it. I tend to get a little cranky if they're disruptive (which is ridiculous because I'm supposed to be trying  to feel the Spirit, right?), so I'm following the crowd with the idea of General Conference Packets-- basically Conference-related activities to help kids stretch their attention span throughout the meetings.
I used to leave the kids to their own devices, feeling like they ought to simply figure out how to deal with boredom and just pay attention. After all, my childhood memories of General Conference are very narrow: I was content to draw and draw and draw while I listened with half a mind. But who says my memories are perfect? Maybe there were sessions of Conference that I don't remember because I wasn't sitting still at all! And besides...my kids aren't ME.


Now, don't get too excited. I don't have a PDF of my special packet. I didn't go all out like that. What I did do is gather materials that seemed appropriate for Ender. A little from one packet, a little from another, and some of my own things thrown in. 
I didn't make one for Scarlett (not being unfair, I just know what I'm up against, and a packet isn't the answer for her).
I considered what things I hoped Ender would be thinking about, what I hoped he would be feeling, and what he would enjoy coloring. He really loves coloring, and he's extremely good at it. So Ender's packet includes a few different sections, the first section covering more activities and the rest being for coloring:

  • TALKS:
    -Some charts and pictures to help him pay attention to speakers and try to identify the prophet and apostles
    -Names of apostles written in traceable font so he can practice writing them
    -A page where he is encouraged to write how he feels when he listens to the prophet
    -A color-by-number page organized by themes (when he hears specific words, he can color numbered segments of a picture)
  • PROPHETS:
    -Coloring picture of Latter-day prophets from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson
    -More coloring pages depicting various stories from the scriptures (Nephi, Joseph Smith, David and Goliath, Noah's Ark, etc.)
  • FAMILY:
    -A family tree to fill in with drawings of family members
    -A "happy home" picture to color
    -A temple picture to color
  • HEAVENLY FATHER'S CREATIONS:
    This section is made entirely of images I saved from Google Image searches. Using the image search tools, select a "line drawing" picture type and "black and white" for color. 
    -The Earth with the sun and moon
    -Sea creatures
    -Woodland creatures
    -Birds
    -Other animals
  • YOUR TURN TO DRAW:
    -What do you think Heavenly Father looks like?
    -Draw what you think it is like in Heaven.
    -What is your favorite thing to do with your sister?
    -Draw something you remember from your Adventures with Daddy.
    -What do you think the baby will look like when he is born?

In addition to the packet, I will be prepared to set the kids up with various quiet activities to keep their little hands busy when they get tired of coloring pages.

  • Drawing on a large whiteboard we can prop against the wall under the TV (seems the same as coloring, but it's novel and exciting for the kids)
  • Playdough with cookie cutters
  • Paper crafts (we have an old Childcraft Make and Do book the kids love to look through)
  • Pipe Cleaner "sculpting"
  • Puzzles
  • Building a couch-fort (as long as it doesn't block the TV, haha!)

Since Conference is several hours total (6-8 hrs over two days), I am also gearing up for some major snacks and appetizers. My kids love to snack on food, and if there's something accessible for them, they are more likely to stay entertained and happy. I don't generally do food like that; I can't handle the constant preparation and mess/cleanup of frequent snacking (not to mention the resulting lack of appetite for actual meals), so I encourage the kids to stick to mealtimes with only small snacks between. When Conference comes, however, I'm pulling out all the stops! I want my kids to be easily consoled should any of us lose patience. So here are some kid-friendly appetizer ideas I'm gathering for a . . .

General Conference Smorgasbord!

  • Popcorn
  • Cookies (I could link a recipe or two hundred, but I figure everyone has their favorite)
  • Chips and Salsa/Dip 
  • Veggies
  • Fruit
  • Cold Cuts (cheese and crackers and slices of meat)
  • Mini Sandwiches (I'm talking about cutting up "normal" sandwiches; there are fancy tea sandwich recipes out there, but that's not where I'm headed with this)

Options requiring more significant preparation time:

  • Pretzel Bites and Cheese
    UPDATE: That was a new recipe for us...and I wasn't that impressed. :( 
  • Pigs-in-a-Blanket
    UPDATE: Nothing really to add here except that you'll want to watch the baking time. Make the crescent roll strips pretty small for the smokies.
  • Layered Bean Dip
    UPDATE: This is the kind of thing that doesn't have to have a recipe; I included it for people who appreciate a recipe/list anyway, but I threw mine together without one.
  • Chex Snack Mix
    UPDATE: This recipe is good...it's also pretty salty and garlic-y. Not the "best" like it says, but good.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Window Judging

I got judged today. Just like sometimes people go window shopping without real interest in seeing the real stuff inside a store, I got "window judged" according to a little glimpse a grumpy old woman got of my day without knowing any back story.



We had been out and about all day, doing errands. After picking up Ender, my last stop was the post office. When we went inside, I didn't dawdle about, but I also didn't hang on to Scarlett (sorry, World...). To be honest, I didn't want to because she was sticky. She looked like a pretty little monster after spilling her lunch all down her cute shirt and tutu in the car, and like a champion, I didn't have any wipes or spare clothes to erase the disaster. Just a water bottle to rinse our hands after battling the gooey, gunk-ified carseat buckles.
I have to tell you-- I was soooo grossed out when I slid open the van door to behold her lunchy mess. I whined to myself and tentatively patted everything with napkins, wailing "nooo!" every time I got touched by sticky gooiness. I wanted to strip Scarlett down and just take her into the post office in her diaper...but, well, my standards hold dirty clothes above nudity, and I just had to surrender.

So as I turned around from the package kiosk (having spent barely two minutes with my back to the kids), I saw Scarlett throwing a shower of cards in the air while an old grumpy woman stalked out the door and said "My goodness!"


The woman's tone really surprised me. It was nasty, harsh, as though she was instantly disgusted with the way I handle my children (or don't handle them). As she walked out the door, I said quietly "Thank you, ma'am..."
My feelings were hurt. I knew it was a "small incident," but it stung nonetheless. I crouched down and got the kids to help me gather up the cards strewn all over the floor, reminding myself not to get cranky with Scarlett just because my own feelings were bruised (that can be tricky, you know). Then we all quietly stalked back to the van to head home.
Not willing to let the grumpy woman's comment get me down, I encouraged myself by reviewing our day as I drove home. I had a lot of errands to do this morning, and I did them all cheerfully, each in a timely and efficient manner. People were friendly and pleasant with me. Scarlett behaved very well. That is a call for gratitude! I had to remind myself that this woman had seen only a small window of our day, and by mere appearances, it looked horrible to her.
I think there are so many mothers in this world who get judged unfairly by what we glimpse in little windows of their lives.
They may be so unfortunate that we've seen them at the worst time of their day or week, and perhaps the situation is a rare one...and we just don't know it. What if the grumpy woman had helped pick up the cards? Or what if she had said "uh-oh, please don't do that!" Or what if she had fought the compelling urge to be nasty and instead just said nothing?

After thinking through my feelings, I felt grateful for the reminder to quell the humanly voracious appetite to judge and instead look for ways to help. If I can't see a way to actually help, maybe I can at least offer kindness, patience and sympathy.

Even for the grumpy old woman...because maybe she is having a difficult time. Or, if I really want to get into the imagination game, maybe she almost tripped on one of the cards on the floor, and the fright of nearly falling shifted her into a shaky, angry mood (don't tell me that's never happened to you)?

I'm just sharing the reminder I personally received today to help others and judge them less. I know I'm going to try to be better in that regard, myself.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

On Hold

So I was making a boring, necessary phone call when I got put on hold (actually, I never spoke to a real person to begin with; the automated service switched me to "on hold"). It was dreadfully mind-numbing listening to the Hold Music repeat itself ad nauseam, so I pulled out my markers and tried to doodle away the time.
At first I just drew tiny things, enjoying trying out each color of my lovely markers. But when it became apparent that my On Hold time would not end soon, I started really getting into it...


Isn't that how it always goes? 
And I had started to think of some great doodling ideas...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tooth Fairy Fun

Ender lost his first tooth last night! He'd been telling us about a supposed loose tooth for nearly a month, and I'd even begun to wonder if it was just wishful thinking on his part. We asked him how it happened, and he said,
"I was eating my burrito, and then I felt something hard! And I looked, and it was my tooth!

Michael and I wanted to do something a little bit more than just tuck some coins under his pillow, but we knew we weren't going to get super crazy fancy with anything (we're not the sort to invest much in tooth fairies or Santa beyond simply having fun).

Michael wrote a note, which he tucked under Ender's pillow...

"Dear Ender, Thank you for the tooth! Baby Teeth are very important to me. Please send more when you get the chance."
On the back, we drew instructions for finding a Paper Tooth that would have his money in it.

I like how the quarters look kind of like a filling. :)
Please excuse the dust...it's the kind that has to be washed away (that, and there isn't really a finish on the surface, so it does look a lot like that even clean). This bookshelf has been up high on a dresser until just a couple days ago. :/ Gross, but whatever! Moving on!

It was kind of tricky, but not super hard...I do wish I'd had fancier paper. A gold tooth would have been really cool! Of course, the professional's final product looks much better. Her instructions were really clear, though.


So this morning, Ender was super excited to tell us all about it. He held up the quarters and boy-squealed. He said,
"When I woke up, I looked under my red pillow, and it wasn't there, and I looked under my blue pillow, and there was a note! And it said there was a paper tooth, and it was REALLY easy to find. I looked on the shelf, and it was there."

Cute little gap!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ender's Birthday Party

It's almost unbelievable just how perfect Ender's birthday turned out for all of us. We smiled and laughed all day, Ender genuinely enjoyed every single one of his presents, and he felt like his party was the best party in the world. We all felt grateful for the company of his party guests. I felt ZERO stress about it all and enjoyed having his friends over to play and celebrate with him. Michael and I were surprised to feel that there really was a difference in Ender, that somehow his birthday brought a magical change from age 5 to age 6. He seemed so much taller, more mature, even somehow more intelligent. And Scarlett handled everything gracefully as well, which is a big deal. No tantrums or jealousy from the little lady. We felt so close as a family, and we loved every minute we shared together.

Enjoy! LOTS of pictures...stick around for the "after party." 
The pictures of Michael and Scarlett make me laugh!


We're just lucky our door is already blue. Easy transformation to TARDIS.

(picture taken night before)

(also taken night before) TARDIS for party game.

Birthday Banner! I'm ridiculously pleased with it...

One of the best kinds of refreshments, in my opinion... ;)

Family tradition to choose a meal on the birthday. Ender's definitely a breakfast kid.

Breakfast in bed! He's making a heart with his hands. :)

He chose a great menu: Orange Julius, cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and blueberry muffins.

Pre-Party Excitement! Scarlett's dancing to the Beatles' birthday song.



Making "adipose" creatures from Doctor Who. 
We figured this would be fun even for the kids who weren't familiar with the show 
(which was most of them, as I expected would be the case).







The finished creatures (which I forgot to send home with most of the kids, woops). 
The voodoo-looking one with toothpicks jutting out of it is Scarlett's. :D


Playing with LEGOs inbetween games.




(I'm not usually too bad at taking pictures, but I should have used a different setting for these fast-moving kids).


"Pin the Light on the TARDIS" game.



Ender cracking up when he saw that he pinned the light on the pantry door instead of the TARDIS.


Blake's turn...


Aidan's turn...


Kristen's turn...


Opening presents! 


Batman-Superman-Joker playset from Blake



$6 from Kristen


Batman LEGO set from Grandma and Grandpa Boatright




"sympathy present" for Scarlett


Candy bouquet and layered cake from Aidan



3-in-1 LEGO (Kitty, Bunny, Puppy...and mouse) creator set from us


Showing presents to Grandma Wahlquist and aunts on Facetime


Booklight from us (he regularly spends about an hour reading in bed each night! It's wonderful!)



Ninjago LEGO set from us


Doctor Who TARDIS from us (he's been asking for one for a year)

Charlotte arrived after this, and I didn't get a picture of the hand-drawn card and picture she gave to Ender. But it was adorable!

Okay, get ready to laugh at my cake-decorating skills, because it's hilarious how badly I did. I ended up making two cakes for Ender...which would seem ridiculous and extreme to me if anyone told me they'd done that, but it actually wasn't a big deal. I wasn't stressed about it at all. I made this cake (my first "shaped" cake) late at night, and it just made me laugh. A lot.


Michael said not to worry-- the TARDIS is simply a bit "wibbly wobbly, timey wimey." 
Doctor Who fans will appreciate that...


I'd say it was more than a BIT wibbly wobbly. This just had me laughing so hard that night.
I prepared Ender by telling him that it looked hilarious and ugly, but when I showed him he said with awe "It's beautiful, Mom! Wow!" 
What a great kid.


This is the cake we used for the party. Not bad for free-hand decorating! I know there are better cakes out there, but I'm quite pleased with the way this turned out!





Ender chose strawberry cake this year. I think he's trying a different flavor every year...and I remember doing the same as a kid (I chose strawberry for my 6th/7th birthday as well, in fact).

After Ender's party guests went home with their simple party favors (a baggie with a handful of candy and a couple balloons), we took him to see The LEGO Movie. My mom said that movie must have been made just for his birthday, and I think she's right. We all enjoyed the movie, and it inspired Michael and Ender to play LEGOs together. So when we got home, that's just what they did. They enjoyed putting together Ender's Batman LEGO set...and then Michael and Scarlett crashed on the floor. Time for the After Party!!! 




So while Ender spent hours putting his new LEGO sets together and playing with them, I huddled on the couch and read my book.


The weather was lovely during Ender's party, but an enormous rainstorm picked up and persisted through the last half of the day as well as the night. It was GLORIOUS. We opened the door and let the rainy air cool the house. Reading during a rainstorm is one of my absolute favorite things.


We welcomed the cool weather, too--although I'm aware that may sound silly to everyone living in the snow right now! :) I ended up falling asleep, too, and when Michael woke up, he took care of the kids and let them hang out on the couch and fall asleep for bedtime at their leisure. It was so perfect.

Happy Birthday, Ender!