Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bentley and Chess

Bentley's current passion is chess.  I signed Jake and Bentley up for memberships with, and Bentley has been really into playing lately.  He can always find someone online up for a game and he's determined to steadily work and then work some more at improving his chess ranking.  He told me he's going to be a grand master within a year.  I told him it's good to have goals.  

He's not really serious about all the strategies and details yet, but he is having fun.  And I'm ready with piles of books and suggestions when he decides he wants them (I'm having a hard time waiting for him to ask!!!) - right now he's convinced that he's *invented* the 4 move checkmate.  :)

I do, however, have to admit that the child can beat me now.  We played a few weeks ago and I wasn't giving the game my full attention and he quickly trounced me.  So I decided I should try harder - and he beat me again.  It's humbling to have the eight year old able to beat me based on his own merits.  It wasn't that long ago I was working hard to throw the game so he could win - and that can be hard to do with a chess game.... !

I'm off to study his chess books - I think I need to up my game!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Kara recently did a science unit with the older three on geology. This inspired me to bring out our rock collection. I started it when Kara was young. I purchased a dozen or so polished rocks and over the years, a few more have been added (not many, just a few). Kara was never really interested in the collection, but she kept them in a tin in her bedroom because they were pretty. 

I really like rocks. I have wanted to take the children out rock collecting for the past two summers, but I have not made it enough of a priority that we did it. I have collected a few books on rock hunting over the past five years. When I saw the children were studying geology I was excited to get my books and rock collection out to share with them. 

After showing them the awesome rocks in our collection, I asked the children if they wanted to visit a rock store. Never having been to a rock store, they weren't that enthused about going, but I took them (and Lincoln) nonetheless. 

They loved the rock store. I had a hard time dragging them away. It is unusual for the children to spend their own money. Jake and Bentley occasionally buy Legos, but Viva just saves her money. All three of them purchased items at the rock store. They bought some Christmas gifts and some items for themselves. I had the children pick out three small geodes to crack open at home. It was a very successful field trip! In fact, they asked to go back the following Saturday to purchase more gifts. At the end of that trip, they were already planning their next visit. 

There is another rock store in town and I am planning to take the children there when we can find the time. I stopped in on my own to see if it was worth a visit. At first I was disappointed because they don't have very many carvings made from rocks which is what the children liked best in the other rock store. But as I looked around the second rock store, I fell in love with...the thousands of polished and unpolished rocks on display! They sell many of them by the ounce. I picked out a few to add to our collection. (The three unbagged rocks (copper, jet, and green quartz!) are from the first rock store.)

One thing about rocks is that no two are alike. Each rock has its own shape, feel, and color pattern. Rocks rock! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Opa & Lincoln: Lego Buddies

Lincoln and Opa are Lego buddies. Lincoln likes to build small sets and opa has a lot of small Creator sets. Lincoln comes to Opa regularly and requests that they build something together. Opa pulls out one of his small creator sets which has building plans for three different vehicles using the same set of bricks. They will build one of the designs and Lincoln will play with it for a while before coming back to Opa and requesting help to build a new design. This has been going on for a number of months now.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Viva Creates

Viva has an entire shelf in the craft closet because she is always working on some project or other. She continues to fashion different items from duct tape. Recently she made Lincoln a belt:

Her artistry with face and body painting is likewise going well:

Lincoln is a great help to Viva. He is excited when she makes him new items out of duct tape and he is willing to let her practice body painting on him! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Everyday Life: October

It is way past time to clear out my photo folders. Life has been very hectic this fall.

Bentley is testing out one of Evan's birthday gifts: Bill Ding the Original Balancing Clowns.

Evan is practicing his own balancing act.

Our little ninjas at the local school playground. 
They are so adorable!

Evan serving himself cereal and raisins…or should I say raisins and cereal?

Lincoln and Evan doing puzzles!

Viva baking!

Favorite Activities!
Bentley and Jake playing Lego Minecraft on their iPads.
Viva reading. Ramses napping.

Bentley baking!

Cutie pie drawing on paper!
(And not on the table, chair or whiteboard which he occasionally does.)

Lincoln playing with…a cool building toy!

Lincoln enjoys the tire swing on a cool fall day.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Twin Times

Recently Viva and Jake had similar, but separate experiences which prompted Kara to offer both of them incentives to be cooperative. It started with Viva who had to get a TB test. Kara felt bad that Viva had to get a shot and no one else in the household had to do likewise. I could totally relate to this experience. Three months before I graduated from high school the school district instituted a new ironclad rule that you had to have your shots up-to-date or you could not attend school. For some reason my shot records were missing. We speculated that because I was a twin some inept filer in the admin office thought my twin and I were the same person because our names were similar (Julia Ann and Jean Ann) and our birth date was the same, so they threw my shot records out. The end result was that I had to retake all my shots. I was livid needless to say and my twin thought it was the funniest thing ever. 

Viva was persecuted by the same school district that persecuted me about the same thing. But wait, this post was about Viva and Jake, not Viva and me. (Should I retitle the post and continue telling you about my and Viva's similarities? I would, but Kara insists the blog be about the children.) Back to Viva...the local school district demands that every child enrolled with it be tested for TB. This makes sense if you attend school with hundreds of other children who you could infect if you had TB, but since Viva doesn't leave home, it is a stupid rule. Kara tried reasoning with the staff at the charter school, but they are under the school district's big fat thumb, so we had to obey the rule. As Viva is the only one currently enrolled in ASD, she is the only one who had to take a TB test. We told her if she was a good sport about it, we would take her to the craft store and let her purchase some new supplies. She picked out two new rolls of Duck tape.

A few weeks later Jake was in a similar predicament. He went to the dentist and learned that it was not okay for his baby tooth to stay in place indefinitely. It was starting to cause problems for the permanent tooth which had been valiantly trying to push up for months. The baby tooth had to be pulled which necessitated Jake getting a shot of novacaine. Kara was not sure how Jake was going to react to this treatment. Earlier this year Jake was uncooperative with the dentist and at that time the dentist told Kara if he could not work with Jake, then Jake would have to go to a pediatric dentist. After a few pointed discussions, Jake became a model dental patient. However, with this new dental problem Kara worried that Jake might relapse. (Just like with Viva, I could totally relate to this experience, too! I HATE dental work. HATE, HATE, HATE it.)

As Kara had just successfully negotiated with Viva to take the sting out of her TB shot, Kara tried negotiating with Jake to get him to be zen about having a shot and then getting a tooth pulled. Jake was a good sport about pulling the tooth and he received a nerf gun. (Just in case you're wondering, the children do not get special rewards for every painful experience they go through. Sometimes they just have to tough it out.)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sugar Cookie Fun

A little girl at Viva's gymnastics gym has a serious illness and the gym decided to have a bake sale to donate money to her family to help with the medical costs. Viva asked Grandma Vicki to help her make sugar cookies for the bake sale. I didn't get pictures of the finished product (I should have!), but they turned out beautifully! Viva reported that most of her cookies were gone the first day of the bake sale.

We are very thankful for the help that Grandma Vicki gave us on this bake sale project!


Opa continues his obsession with ukulele playing. Every Friday night he attends ukulele night at Guidos and Jake and Bentley go with him. They have even done two gigs with the group! They played a few songs at two different social events held by local businesses for their employees. The group was paid a small amount which went in the group kitty. So are the boys and opa professional musicians now?!

Here are a few uke photos collected over the past two months.

Opa took a selfie the evening he and the boys attended the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra performance in early November. 

The boys were so handsome, I'm including a second (good) photo from that evening.

Evan continues to love his ukulele, but he's just as apt to play with the tuning keys as he is to strum it. It's a good thing he has his own ukulele!

Viva's ukulele isn't taken out very often, but I did capture this rare moment.

Lincoln loves to sing and play his ukulele, but opa refuses to take him to ukulele night with the older boys at Guidos.

This is an odd collection of photos because I have none of Jake or Bentley playing their ukulele! I will try and address that lack. In fact, I shall try to get a video posted of them playing.