Monday, January 23, 2012

Birthday House: Part One--Part Only?

I normally give myself a clean house for my birthday. Today, the starting point was so discouraging that I decided to just avoid this house altogether. I dropped the kids off for breakfast at school (no room for food prep in the kitchen), and used a BOGO coupon to get Gandolfo's breakfast sandwiches for me and #5. (The Radio City with Swiss instead of American cheese. Yum!) Then I renewed my driver's license, made this video (be glad you can't smell it--I think our dishwasher may be leaking, but I don't want to know about that until tomorrow), and then I enjoyed an afternoon at my friend Kelly's house. She put on a birthday lunch for me. So far it's been a lovely day not being home.

Yesterday #5 was very excited about the big birthday surprise the kids have in store for me. About seven seconds after telling me he was so excited for my surprise, he spilled the beans and told me I'm supposed to run errands or nap on my birthday so the kids can get the house sparkling clean. It's now 4:10 p.m. and I'm going to run errands. And #5 didn't even ruin the surprise, because I'll still be VERY surprised if this place is clean before their bedtime. Take a look:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The "Pleage of Alegenst"

#4 (second grade) might not be the best speller yet, but at least she is patriotic.

I found this old gift bag hanging from a mini American flag on the shelf in her room. Now that she has written the words, the pledge is a cinch. I've even caught her and #5 facing this bag and reverently reciting the pledge with their hands on their hearts and their attention on the Stars and Stripes.

A couple months ago, in the same patriotic spirit, #5 (Kindergarten) broke out singing the National Anthem while he accompanied me for an errand in the Assistant Director's office at his school. There was a poster displaying a photo of the flag, and #5 just couldn't help himself. When he finished singing, I gave him a hug, and the A.D. commented on how much he loves that song.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A No-School Holiday

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day everyone.

Here's a look at how my kids spent their free day.

#4 hung out with her siblings and colored and made cookies.

#2 went surfing.

#1 made baby shower invitation with her friends. They are throwing a shower for their Church leader who recently adopted a newborn.

#s 3 and 5 played with friends...who like to use people as canvases. (#5 was happy to be the Spider King all day.)

I spent two hours making the kitchen cleaner. (Not clean; just -er.) After two hours, I was happy to switch tasks and catch up on my work for ACHF (the foundation). Is it lame that my holidays are just days to do different work besides driving kids around all day? I did my work to an interview on the radio about the history of civil rights activism, which was interesting...and maybe the kids subconsciously learned a few things. Overall, it was nice to have a free day commemorating the mostly peaceful battle that made our country more free for all its citizens.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Laser Tag

A few months ago we coughed up the money for the Utah Pass of Passes for each member of our family. Because I hate wasting money, we've put these passes to good use. One included attraction is the Trafalga Fun Center in Lehi, which has a pretty good laser tag course. Laser tag became popular when I was a college student, but I blew it off as a childish activity. I'm glad I gave it a second chance, because it's actually quite fun to get together with a bunch of adult friends and run around in the dark shooting each other with beams of light.

My kids are also picking up on the fun of this game.

When #5 was in charge of our Family Home Evening activity recently, he asked if we could go play laser tag. Lehi is too far to drive for FHE. Undaunted, he and #4 disappeared into their room for the rest of the afternoon to put together a homemade laser tag activity.

When the time came, they brought out our vests and suited us up.

#5 showed us all how to make our laser "hand guns". He was very patient with those of us who couldn't get our gun's barrel facing the correct way!

Then they split us into teams and showed us our recharging stations. My team recharged by standing by a kitchen chair and waiting for #4 (the referee) to beep, which let us know our gun was live again.

We turned out most of the lights and ran around shooting each other. If we got shot five times, we had to recharge. #4 monitored the whole game. She gave us a countdown when time was running out, and then gathered all of us to announce the scores. The all-girls team had SIX points! But the co-ed team had EIGHT! I made at least 20 hits, so I think the scoring was a little off. But we had a great time of it! Thanks for thinking of a great activity #5.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Resolution

First of all, may I just say...


How did I miss an entire nine weeks of blogging? Sure, I've been busy keeping up with Christmas and getting 117 people to Mexico and back...but still.

Before I fill you in on my 2012 resolutions, may I remind you of my first-ever resolution, which I made one year ago. In addition to cleaning my master bathroom once per month (as Kent's Christmas gift--and I'll admit to missing the month of October), I resolved to clean my dishes within five days of using them.

You might think that with four children who are capable of doing dishes--plus one who tries to be capable--this is a silly goal. But there is something about the so-called "hand dishes" that frightens my children and (literally) draws forth tortuous wails when I remind them there are pots and pans waiting on the stove that won't fit in the dishwasher. When a child is still moping around the kitchen as I lock up for the night and go to bed, I usually just give in and tell them to get the dishwasher going and go to bed as well. Then I wash the hand dishes sometime in the future. I know I'm contributing to the perpetual problem; but honestly, I'm a little grossed out by what my kids consider a "washed" dish. At least the dishwasher sanitizes their efforts; and if I wash the larger dishes myself, I know they are clean. (If you are a parent and you are rolling your eyes right now, I'm sure it's because you are reflecting on your own children's dish-washing complaints, and not my poor parenting skills. Am I right?)

Return and report: At the beginning of 2011, I found my resolution quite motivating and stayed on top of the dishes really well with my little goal nagging at the back of my mind. My efforts soon became habit, and I think I did pretty well over the year. Of course, it helped a great deal that our six-month house guest, Edwin, took it upon himself to clean the dishes (and counters, and floors) each day. My kitchen never looked so good for so long! Now I'm back to the three- or four-day clean-kitchen schedule. But at least I'm still within my five-day threshold!

And now, the part of this blog you've all been waiting for:
Mary's New Year's Resolutions 2012!

But first, a random photo:

We were in Mexico for New Year's Eve last week. Our group bought some fireworks. Most of them were just really loud, although a few people picked up bottle rockets. No one bought this stick of dynamite, but I am curious what it would have done.

(I felt like this way-too-long post needed another picture. Now back to the resolutions.)

It's probably a bad idea to attempt more than one resolution in any given year, but I'm going to go for it.

Resolution #1: I want to bring balance and relaxation into my life. I've realized that even though I would like those things to spontaneously show up every day--or at least every week...or maybe month?--that's not going to happen. So I need to schedule relaxation in. My resolution is to practice yoga and at least 15 minutes of meditation once each week. For a few years now, I've felt that meditation is the tool I should be using to keep my mind strong and to improve my relationship with God. I was good at it for several months back in 2010. (Or was it 2009? Like I said, I need to strengthen my mind.) Then I fell out of the habit. Neglecting meditation certainly hasn't improved anything about my spiritual relationship, and I've felt adrift for awhile now. I'm throwing yoga in with it because I love the positive energy I get when I take the time for a longish yoga routine. I'm not talking about the 15-min yoga videos that quickly take one through a series of toning stretches. I really like the Ali MacGraw video, which I've had on loan for at least a year now from my friend, Mindy. (Yes Mindy, I know I should one day return your VHS tape...but not yet. I hope you don't mind.) The yoga master eases slowly into the poses and lets you hold them for a good stretch. It takes 50 minutes to get through, but it's good exercise and relaxation all in one. If anyone else can recommend a good yoga or meditation tape, I'm willing to try some new ones, too.

Resolution #2: Post to this blog at least once each week. the VERY least, twice per month. I've missed recording some funny kid moments and fun family times. I'll probably play a bit of catch up, but mostly I don't want to lose those memories or the ones still to be made.

In conclusion, it's too bad my bathrooms and kitchen are going to fall apart again this year. At least I had a good run with them. I figure if the world is ending this year anyway, who cares about mildew and sticky floors? I might as well face the end times with a relaxed attitude and some digital memories along the way.

What are your resolutions for 2012?