Saturday, February 22, 2014

TARDIS Birthday Invitation

Ender loves the show Dr. Who so much, he wants a TARDIS birthday cake and a toy TARDIS...goodness, anything TARDIS just rocks his world. So for his birthday invitations, I thought it would be fun to do them TARDIS-style (what else?).

For any Dr. Who fans out there planning a party, save yourself some trouble and take advantage of these "free printables." 

Ender put a sticker on it to help it stay closed, but that's obviously optional.

For the printables, I condensed the text area so it will fit better without being cut off at all.
(This was our first one, testing the printing/alignment).

Optional black-and-white for the ink-frugal! 
I prefer this for Ender so he can color and take part in making the invitations.

Here's the inside; I took out our personal info, but it's a simple fill-in.
Party stuff first (theme or just "come enjoy cake and ice cream").
Day of Week, Date.
Time of party.
Address of party.
Phone number for RSVP.

If I could sit by you and show you what I do to configure the right printing setup, I could show you exactly how I lined things up. So, I can tell you what I did, but if it's not helpful, I have to simply wish you good luck!

For the printing, I used the good old program Paint. It is really simple for the print setup. When you right-click and save these images, they should all be the same size. When you open them in Paint, set up the page so that it will print centered as Portrait (and print). Replace the paper in the right position to print the "inside image" on the reverse side of the paper. When we printed ours, the outline of the inside image was slightly outside of the edge of the TARDIS image, but everything lined up and fit perfectly after cutting. Cut on the lines of the square around the TARDIS image. Fold on the lines so the doors close together to complete a picture of the TARDIS. 


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bad Brain Day

There are definitely some nice benefits to being pregnant. One of those benefits is a long break from an otherwise monthly  time of distress and outrageous hormones. You would think so, anyway. On Monday, I discovered that my brain was still afflicted by a sort of hormonal that I just hope will not return in cycles.

It proved to be a very trying day. I have documented it in simple doodles to make it easier to tell.

So Monday began. It actually began like a normal day. A normal day that's a holiday, at least. The kids were both home with me, but Michael had school. That was disappointing, but we figured we would still have fun. But before we could begin any fun activities, I had some immediate-deadline paperwork to do.

The paperwork was stressful and boring and took a very long time to complete.
The kids were bored but not too badly impatient...after about an hour, I discovered why Scarlett seemed content to wait so long.

She got into my makeup. Big time. And I got mad.
I spazzed, I yelled a few times, I gently-but-firmly sent her out of my room,
and I nearly cried while I cleared the mess.
I had parallel thoughts going on in my mind. 
One said "It is just makeup."
Anger said "It is MY makeup, and I like my makeup."
One said "Nothing is really ruined."
Anger said "My cream lipstick and cream blush are all dug up now!" 
One said "You don't use those very often."
Anger said "But it is MINE...and I don't want to deal with this..."
One said "And the mess is all taken care of. That was quick. Breathe." 
Anger said "I should calm's so hard to calm down..."

I finally succeeded in finishing my paperwork,
 and I cleaned the majority of makeup off of Scarlett (minus lipstick streaks
in her hair and eyebrows). I didn't feel ready to give her a bath. 
So the day pushed itself past me to lunchtime, and we had to eat. 
The kids were pleasant. I'd given them a good lunch, and they enjoyed it.
Scarlett had already forgotten the makeup incident (or pretended she had), 
and we sat together in nice enough company. 
But something was off, something about myself. My mind was still a little tight,
like it had been strained and twisted. It felt cramped.
Even though I didn't want to talk, I took a deep breath and apologized.
I apologized in a low, quiet voice that I was sorry for being cranky and frustrated with the kids.

They were fine with it. Ender said casually "it's okay." 

And I felt like that should be it.
With my mind still swimming in a fog of irritable moodiness,
the kids and I made a plan.

We played a game together, at Ender's request. 
Machinarium is a charming and wonderfully clever game.
I recommend it! Please follow the link and see what it's like!
It's not really kid-level, but the kids like watching while it's played.

We made peanut butter cookies:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour

Heat oven 375 F.
Mix butter and peanut butter 30 seconds.
Add and mix sugars and baking soda/powder.
Add and mix vanilla and egg.
Stir in flower.
Shape into balls, roll in sugar, press criss-cross with forks.
Bake 7-8 minutes.

We did a little craft project together.
We filled balloons with flour and drew faces on them.
Scarlett drew a "real" face for the first time! That was a sweet moment for me.
Ender drew a great cat-face on his. His artistic skills are fantastic!
This balloon-blob idea is not super crafty, and it's not much of a project.
But it's something fun for kids to play with...
And I teased myself that it was like those stress-relieving ball things.

At that point, we had about half an hour before Michael would be home.
I sent the kids outside to play with their new blob-toys.
And I massaged my temples and turned off the lights and closed my eyes...

We had done good things together. 
I had tried very, very hard to be kind and patient.
After the makeup mess, I didn't show any anger outwardly,
but I felt very irritable and cranky. Every time Ender asked a question,
I had to take deep breaths before I said anything.
He asked normal questions, but I just felt so disinclined to talk. At all.

What was going on? I was doing things "right," 
helping my kids and doing fun things with them.
I was trying so hard to be happy, trying to make the day better.
But my mind seemed closed to my efforts.

It seemed as if something else was going on in my brain, rerouting my efforts and running the show.
It felt like my wires were crossed and sparking. My brain held the remote; there was no changing this channel. It was like a hormonal invasion was taking place, emitting radiation and rage.
On paper, the day had been good. The kids and I had done fun things together.
The kids were even fairly happy. 

But I was not.
I felt tired,
and very exhausted.

All day.

When Michael came home, he rescued me from further frustrations and took on my duties.
He handled the kids' problems, he took over dinner when I burned it (lack of interest rather than lack of skill, sadly), and he put the kids to bed. But I still found myself getting worked up over the kids' various mini tantrums or excessive questions. I still felt annoyed by their need for attention.
And while the hormonal charges of my brain proceeded with disregard, another part of me felt so bad for my kids. I wanted to be a nice, soft mommy for them.
It was supposed to be a sweet Monday holiday.

With Michael's help, my mind finally turned around, but only after the kids were in bed. I was able to relax and kind of forget the weirdness that had plagued me all day. But I had some regrets...I felt like I hadn't handled things well. I felt like it had been one dark day in my head despite my ongoing efforts to make things right. While I pondered everything, I felt sure that the problems in my mind were hormonal and excusable.
I felt sure, too, that I could have avoided at least some of my anger by not choosing to hold on to my frustrations...specifically when Scarlett performed that nuclear makeover. I did feel some peace for actually doing fun things the kids enjoyed. I couldn't feel like I had failed, not this time.

I will be honest-- that "hormonal mind control" was a very uncomfortable feeling, to say the least. It really distressed me. I did recognize it, for which I am very thankful. But even while realizing that, it was so disconcerting to feel like I couldn't explain my attitude. It was strange and disturbing that I was having such a ridiculously hard time turning it around. It felt so out of my control, and I've always held strong to the understanding that we can choose our attitudes.

Well, attitudes are a separate thing from emotions. I think this has to be the case, at least for my case. My emotions are definitely vulnerable to my hormones' swirling, shifting world. My body is growing a baby, and that miraculous work is serious work. So while my emotions undergo this turbulence, I believe I can grasp a tiny thread of willpower to maintain a good attitude.
What's a good attitude? In this kind of situation:
Forgiving myself, being patient with myself, giving myself the room to forgive and be patient with others.
My kids are sweet and forgiving. Their childlike forgetfulness of my mistakes makes it so much easier for me to keep trying.

I am actually very thankful that life is marked by passing days.
And I'm ever so thankful my days are bookend-ed with prayers that clean the slate.
Monday happened.
Then Tuesday happened, with more light crowding out my darkness.
Then today. Today is happening. 
Today I will try my best to be kind. And when I fall short of my best, I will forgive.
And I will try again.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Each of these pictures are phone-taken. 
Sorry about the lack of quality; we have first-generation smart phones.

Ender helped make these Valentines for his class; we had a different plan originally, but when we couldn't find the matching candy for the note, we changed plans...and I think this is more fun, anyway. Ender's class thought they were really cool. I'm glad! For such a simple idea, it was a lot of work to fold all that cardstock!

We haven't exactly started a tradition of it, but we really love visiting the temple on Valentine's Day. We did last year, just as a couple, and it was very relaxing and romantic. This year, we took advantage of the Gilbert Temple Open House and took the kids with us (yesterday)! The temple was exquisite, as would be expected, and the children felt like it was a really special experience. Scarlett was so excited about the temple that she made some LEGO temples today. :) And Ender was really excited at the idea of going to the temple when he's 12...even though that's 6 years away! What a sweet family memory to make! Love is a great focus of any temple work. It was wonderful to share it all as a family.

I wish I could have taken a picture straight on, from between the rows of palm trees-- that was one breathtaking view! But there were a LOT of people (and the kids were feeling so ready to be done)...and our phones were in the van.

I've been having fun lately with my nails. I keep them short and practical, not just for the harp's sake but for general housekeeping and day-to-day functioning. But I've been prone to rest more lately with this little growing baby soaking up my energies, so I took advantage!

This is just an LED treatment for gel polish. It helps the polish dry/harden faster and somehow seems to make it last longer. I'm always surprised when my nails don't chip after I use them like tools.

I wish I could get an accurate picture of what this really looked like; my pink polish is sort of neon, and under the light it was absolutely electric. :) Pretty cool! 

So...I gave a heart-box of chocolates to Michael and each of the kids, since I knew I wouldn't be doing anything more fancy for the kids. Looks like Scarlett decided one wasn't enough? I found her like this when I came into the kitchen, and I almost said something to her about it but realized what a funny sight it was. :) 
I still wanted the kids to feel like they were included in all the fancy Valentine stuff, but I do realize it's a lot of chocolate for a kid. I do. Don't worry.

The beautiful roses are from Michael. :)

Our Valentine's Day is somewhat up in the air, and we're not stressing about scheduling anything crazy. We'll have a romantic evening, that's for sure, and we have plans for tomorrow and Sunday, so there's no stress. 

While Michael was at school, I spent the morning taking some time for makeup, and then I did some service-oriented organizing around our bedroom. Our Love Nest is beautiful. :) It's clean, and now the closet is, too. I used to take up 90% of the closet, no joke. That's a shame! It's embarrassing, even! Hahaha! So I sorted through my clothes until Michael finally has his 50% of the closet for perhaps the first time ever in our marriage. :) When I showed him his lovely side of the closet, he definitely appreciated the significance, but he also said he never minded that my clothes took up so much space. Isn't that so sweet? I really think so. I love that he doesn't get annoyed with me or my silly habits. He never makes me feel like he's "putting up with me," either. He is so good to me. I love him so much, and I feel so loved by him.

I felt very happy thinking about him all morning, doing all that organizing for him (the closet project meant taking care of several other projects all at the same time, because I STILL have tons of clothing tucked in various places...goodness, it's ridiculous). 

That's our Valentine's Day so far! I'm going to go snuggle with Michael, enjoy my kids playing with the enormous heart balloon Ender chose for me, and have a really happy and love-filled evening. Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How to Clean Your Room - for kids

I was wondering when my next creative boost would hit...but it seems that creativity breeds creativity. I didn't have to wait long.

When Ender and Scarlett are supposed to clean their room, it nearly cripples them with anxiety. Um...okay, just Ender. Scarlett doesn't care. But Ender feels so daunted by the task because he can't help but feel like I'm asking him to climb Mount Everest. He'll try to start, and after putting ONE thing away, he gets lost in la-la land, and it can take almost the entire day to really get the job done. I so wish I were kidding.

The thing is, I understand. I'm like that myself, and I get very distracted in the middle of tasks like that (or at least I really did as a kid), and I do tend to blow things out of proportion when I'm stressed. Like anyone, right? We usually offer our help to Ender, helping him pick things up and giving him game ideas ("pick up everything red!" or "pick things up with your toes!" or "grab everything you can in 30 seconds, GO!"), but it never seems to work well enough. He was still stressed...and then we were, too. Because it's annoying to try and help your kid when they won't DO anything.

My "creation" for this month is, hopefully, a solution. Ender hasn't seen it yet--wish me luck. The idea is that he will be excited to move from one thing to the next, almost like a race (and I have seen this method work REALLY well for him with other things). And my plan is to have him cleaning his room nearly every day so that it won't get too galactically catastrophic from cleaning to cleaning.

These were drawn on the backside of an old calendar. The pages are a little difficult to turn, so Ender may need my help between steps (doesn't bother me yet). It would be easier if I had some sort of easel stand; that's what I'd recommend to anyone else. As with many of my projects, you may copy my work. I really don't mind in cases like this because I understand that there is a need to minimize the daily potentials of power struggles between parents and kids.