Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dear Bentley!

Today is Bentley's 2nd birthday. It's hard to believe we've had him here with us for 2 years. Or, as I think of it sometimes, 11% of his childhood. Yikes. It's incredible how quickly babies learn and grow and get bigger (although not hugely bigger in Bentley's case!!). It's been a wonderful, exciting, happy, and all too fast couple of years with our awesome little man. We can't wait to see how he grows and learns this next year!

How did we spend the birthday day?

We crawled out of bed this morning and made it out to Great-Grandma Hill's house to have a joint birthday luncheon for the little guy and the Great Grandma. We made it there by 11:30 thanks to some help from Grandma getting us out the door at our place. It can be impossible to get moving with these children some days...

Bentley declined to join in the lunch eating, despite the lovely offering I provided (Great Harvest bread, salad, rasberry sparkling cider, and fettucine alfredo!). Oh well - Grandma and Aunt Jean ate with me! We did manage to get a picture of the birthday guy and gal (I had too much fun with the photo effects in Picasa, sometimes I can't stop myself):

After lunch Bentley and I left the twins in the care of Grandma (thank you!) and we headed out for fun at the toy store. We visited Over the Rainbow toys and spent a couple of hours playing with trains, trucks, airplanes, and other fun toys. I had a hard time convincing Bentley we needed to head home, but he did eventually give in with good grace! We made it out without too much damage to the bank account. :-)

While we were out playing apparently Great-Grandpa was wondering where Bentley had gone off to - he asked my Mom "where is no way?". A new nick name for the dear child, and an appropriate one! No way is, in fact, his favorite statement. He's been trying to internalize the toddler motto.

Bentley napped once we made it home and I made the cake. We went for a double layer brownie cake with (of course) chocolate frosting. I offered Bentley some sprinkles to decorate the top, but he wasn't really interested so the cake ended up with just a slight hint of color:

About this time Matt made it home from work, and Grandma and Opa showed up for some birthday fun. Bentley isn't a huge eater (as I've mentioned before!), so I didn't really know what to make for a special birthday dinner. I settled on pasta for him and soup for us (figuring with two choices he might eat one!), but he decided to start out with a pre dinner brownie heart snack - one for each hand, in fact.

Isn't the birthday crown great? He wasn't too thrilled about it but since both hands were full of brownie he "couldn't" get it off. I had my picture taken with the king:

After the dessert appetizer we ate dinner. And, surprisingly enough, Bentley had a nice size portion of noodles! Maybe he thinks that being 2 means you need to eat twice as much? I can only hope.

Next up - present time!

Genevieve is looking forward to a birthday and presents of her own:

Next up? Cake time!!

Here's Jackson waiting for the birthday boy to drag himself to the table. He was excited about the cake:

Bentley, on the other hand, wasn't quite ready for more dessert. He needed some time to look at his gifts before considering cake:

Cool vacumn, isn't it? I was the giver of that lovely present. It's a chargeable floor sweeper - works on carpet AND hardwood! I figured why buy a toy vacumn when for just a little more money he can have a real one? He screamed when I turned it on, for the time being he prefers to use it with the power in the off position. Perhaps I'll be waiting a little while for my helper to actually clean floors while playing, but that's ok - I'm patient!

After a play break Bentley was ready for the cake:

Almost looks like he's trying to blow out the candles, doesn't it??!

Once the festivities died down Matt and Bentley spent some time vying for use of the new Wedgits building toys. Matt was having a little too much fun apparently - Bentley wanted 100% use of the Wedgits for himself. He would let Matt build up a tower, and then knock it down and steal pieces. :-)

We closed the day out with a chapter from our current bed time story book (The Mouse and the Motorcycle) and Bentley chose to end the day with a sippy cup instead of a bottle. This is a new development! Perhaps he's eager to be older? I'm not sure I'm ready for it though... they grow too quickly.

We'll close with a family shot. Well, two shots. Together they're a complete family grouping!

We're looking forward to the next year of adventure with this awesome little boy we are lucky enough to live with. We are blessed!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

We Love Oreos

We introduced the twinks to Oreos this evening. Genevieve was quite happy when she was handed hers.

Jackson gave his an intense look.

Bentley tried to demonstrate to the twins how to eat one, but they didn't pay attention.

Genevieve played with hers, breaking it into pieces.

Jackson got right down to business, grabbing it with both hands and gnawing on it.

After five minutes the twinks looked like this.

I think in the future that Oreos should be a bath time treat.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Plane Trips with Little Ones

We're home again from our long weekend to Florida. I don't recommend traveling 7980 air miles with three young children. It's not that the children were a problem--they were unbelievably good on the planes--but you end up carting around a lot of gear when traveling with little ones. We had car seats for the twins, a double stroller, a diaper bag, a back pack with a nebulizer, and miscellaneous toys and books packed in our back packs. Even with four pack horses, it was hard work to cart all the gear along with two infants and a toddler on and off the planes.

Matt and Kara could not sit next to each other on the airplane because you can't have two lap seat infants in one row as there are only four oxygen masks in each row. (Have you ever been on a flight that used oxygen masks?) They ended up in aisle seats near each other which was better than window or middle seats except for that sometimes a baby head would end up sticking out in the aisle which is risky for said head.

Our first flight left Anchorage at 4:20PM and arrived in Seattle almost 3 and 1/2 hours later. This flight went well except for shortly after takeoff. Bentley had been sitting on my lap looking out the window as we took off. I explained to him that we were leaving the ground. I pointed out that we were going up and up and into the clouds. He suddenly freaked and wanted to "Go away!"--as in get off the plane NOW. I passed him to his grandfather in the aisle seat, but he was still quite frantic in his demands to "go away". Fortunately he kept his volume low. This was Bentley's fifth trip on airplanes, so his reaction took me by surprise.

The second portion of the trip was Seattle to Orlando, a 5 1/4 hour night flight. We kept Bentley away from the windows and covered his ears during take off and landing. The flight passed fairly well with all three little ones getting some sleep even if the adults were not so fortunate. Jackson had a short screaming fit in the middle of the flight, but Matt ended it relatively quickly with a fresh diaper and a bottle.

The two and half hour car trip from Orlando to Venice did not go half so well as the much longer plane flights. The children had reached their limits and let us know it. I'm glad they saved their ire for when we had no public audience.

The two flights home went excellently for the kidlets with no outbursts at all--from them. On the first flight there was some world class shrieking from a 21 month old in the row in front of Matt. She had volume and stamina. We were all very thankful it wasn't one of ours making the noise.

We left Orlando at 6:20PM and arrived back in Anchorage at 2:30AM. The last leg of our trip was on a combination cargo and passenger jet. We had to board and exit the plane through the back which required that we walk outside from the terminal to the plane. This wasn't so bad in Seattle although it was raining a little. When we arrived in Anchorage it was 15 degrees and we didn't have coats for the kids. We wrapped them in their blankets which were not large enough. Little Genevieve was barefoot in a summer dress. Brrr! In addition to hauling the three kids from the plane to the terminal we had to drag the baby seats and stroller along with us. Insanity.

We survived the experience of traveling with three young children. Would we do it again? Yes we would because the reason for our trip wasn't to take a plane ride, it was to introduce the twins to their uroma and uropa.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


We visited the beach today. It was a beautiful day. There was sun, sand, surf, birds, shells, and wind. It's hard to say which Bentley disliked more, the wind or the sand. Just as when we visited Florida last May, he refused to walk on the beach. He clung to his dad or to his mom and worked hard to keep his feet clear of the beach.

The twins were more adventurous--or were they less able to communicate their dislikes? Nah, I don't think it's that. Both Jackson and Genevieve do a fine job of letting you know when they are unhappy. They seemed intrigued by the sand, Jackson more so than Genevieve.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Snapshot: the 7 month old babies!

It's almost midnight here in Florida, but I have 4 hours left of the twinks 7 month birthday if I go by Alaska time. :-)

7 -months old - that's a big number! I know every number gets larger than the last, but I was focusing on getting to the 6 month birthday and didn't spend any time preparing myself for the numbers that keep coming after that. Genevieve and Jackson are on their way to turing 1 year old. Very scary!

I realized today I haven't posted my new "snapshot" feature for either of the twins yet. So I'm going to be tricky and double it up with their birthday post.

So here we go...

Genevieve's favorite color: pink, of course! Ok - to be honest - I am not 100% positive on this one. But I'm crossing all my fingers and toes that I'm right because otherwise she might be a little irritated that pink seems to show up in 90% of her outfits. What can I say? I went overboard, because I was so excited to be buying little girl clothing to go with all the cute little boy clothing I already had!

Jackson's favorite game: peek-a-bo always produces hysterical laughter. Like his smile, Jackson's laugh is huge and addictive - we can't get enough of it!

Genevieve's favorite activity: tummy time! She will happily spend hours on the flour working on her mobility skills.

Jackson's favorite person: anyone with arms who is near by and willing to hold him. This boy is a huge cuddle bug and would probably enjoy spending 99.9% of his time in warm arms if given the opportunity. He amply rewards the arm providers with plenty of drool filled smiles. What more could a person hope for?!

Genevieve's "nature" in 1 word: this is a tough one, and I imagine it will change with age. I started out with stoic, but that wasn't quite the right word. I tried out reserved for size and it wasn't quite right either. I have settled on temperate. According to it means: "moderate or self-restrained; not extreme in opinion, statement, etc". In 1 word this is as close as I can get.

It takes hard work to get big reactions out of Genevieve. She's very good natured (as long as food and sleep are provided on a regular basis) and will provide great smiles and conversation on occasion, but she isn't given to an excess of emotion. Not quick to laugh, but also not prone to fits, unlike...

Jackson's "nature" in 1 word: the first words that keep popping to mind are words like excitable, fussy, fretful... but that's not totally fair! Jackson can get very upset (much easier than his sister), but he can also be quite the cheerful little charmer. I think I'll have to settle for extrovert at this point - although I think it's a bit of a cheat as it's quite an encompassing term. The "glaring" Jackson personality at this point is "hold me, hold me, don't leave me alone at!". So we'll be positive and say it's all because he's quite the extrovert! Wait wait - I checked out the online thesaurus and dictionary, and if I want a word more parallel to Genevieve's I'll have to go with unconstrained. Genevieve is not extreme, but Jackson shows no constraints to reign in his moods - be they good or bad. :-)

The "alpha": is currently Genevieve. She're more likely to take the initative and approach her brother for a friendly face swipe than he is to approach her. I figure this is only fair as all ultrasounds of the twins showed Jackson as the aggressor - kicking his sister in the head, using her belly as a pillow, and positioning himself so that no matter what he'd be first out of that cramped growing chamber. It's Genevieve's turn to be in charge! I should note Genevieve only gets alpha status if we're just ranking the twins. Bentley has been working VERY hard lately to enforce his status as top dog on the totem pole. I'm not sure the twins are getting the message, but he keeps trying to beat it (literally, but in a cheerful manner of course!) into them.

Other 7 month news (or non-news, as it may be)... the twins aren't eating solids yet (we need to get working on that, but first they have to learn to swallow!) so I can't share stories of favorite foods. The twins don't read yet, so I can't share favorite books - although - Genevieve is learning to turn pages and Jackson likes to look along while Bentley reads with whatever adult he can capture. Crawling (in a rapid forward motion) has not quite arrived, but both babies practice dilligently for hours a day. Hopefully they'll reap the rewards of the labors soon.

and... that's it for now! No other notable news (that I can recall!) for the 7 month post; so we'll close with some of the action shots from the crawling practice sessions:

First pics from Florida!

We have arrived in Florida. Stories from the plane will be in a different post, as those pictures are on the little camera and we can't get to them at the moment. :-) We are thrilled to be here for many reasons - one of them being it is about 70 degrees warmer here than back home right now!

The kids have been busy. The babies are working on forward crawling (they still haven't completely grasped the concept) and chatting up a storm. Bentley has been playing with trains and reading with his Uroma:

The pool is busy heating up to an appropriate temperature. Despite the 78 degree water temperature we convinced Bentley to try it out yesterday - he let us know it needs to be a bit warmer, and then spent some time in the hot tub to warm up:

Jackson has been charming his Uroma and spending lots of time being a baby cuddle bug with her. He already knows that big smiles go a long way towards capturing hearts, and he makes a great first impression!

Genevieve, on the other hand, has been spending time contemplating life and wondering why everything is so much brighter, warmer, and greener all of the sudden! She hasn't figured it out quite yet so she's been concentrating quite hard:

We'll be back with more pictures soon!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Looking Good

I'm in the middle of packing for our quick six day jaunt to Florida with the grandchildren and their parents. I know the next few days will be hectic and we probably won't post (though it is possible that we could since Mark is taking his Mac), so I thought I'd throw out a quick photo of the twins. Aren't they a good looking pair?

Unfortunately even though they look good, they still don't feel so good. Genevieve is almost back to normal, but Jackson has a long ways to go. Kara took him to the doctor's today and he has an ear infection and nasty lungs--turns out he has plenty of cause to be cranky. *sigh* It's hard being so little that you can't clearly communicate your aches and pains. It is going to be a long trip, but we all will do the best we can to make Jackson feel comfortable.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Jackson Scores

Bentley was in a sharing mood tonight. After eating a few cookies, he started taking a bite or two and gifting the cookie away. He gave me one that was twice bitten which I gave to Jackson who I was holding at the time. Then Bentley got another cookie, took a bite and gave it, too, to Jackson. Jackson held on tightly to both cookies and occasionally he gnawed on them. I don't think he swallowed much of either one, but he managed to destroy them both with drool.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's Not All Roses..

when you are a snail-paced mobile infant and your fast moving older brother is in the mood to terrorize someone.

Genevieve was, somewhat unwillingly, Bentley's object of experimentation for the day. First it was the motorized car with which he tried to run over her hands and feet. I got there in time but it was a close call! I took away the car - he screamed, and screamed, and screamed.

Later, after I'd let my guard down, he attacked with a dump truck. She was playing happily on the floor and he drove straight into her head (at a run, I should add). I took away the dump truck and the Genevieve. He screamed; she screamed. We tried to point out to him that she was the injured party and he made a half hearted attempt to kiss her.

I imagine it only gets more interesting from here on as the twins become proficient crawlers? I can wait. I am an only child - I had a peaceful upbringing with no siblings to interfere - so I don't have any personal experience with violence among siblings!

There are, of course, no pictures of the brutality in progress. Even if I'd had the camera out I would have had an obligation to prevent, not record! Here is a picture of the brother and sister in a happier moment:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cultural Experiences

Kara asked us if we wanted to take Bentley to a cultural event going on in our community. (Last weekend Matt took him to a children's' art festival, so now it was our turn to contribute to the little tyke's education.) We had a choice of the ice carving festival downtown or the Folk Festival which was taking place on the university campus. Since we were already headed downtown to buy shoes, we chose the ice carving.

It was quite cold outside and Bentley opted to not walk from where we parked to the ice festival, but to be carried. Nice option, if you can get someone to carry you. When you're a pint-sized two year old hanging out with your grandparents, that's not hard to do. When we arrived at Town Square we dutifully checked out the ice carvings. We had to keep moving to keep from freezing. We tried to get a good event photo on our pocket camera, but Bentley was not fully cooperative.

Afterwards we took him to our home and gave him a chance to take a nap (he opted not to). Later we headed back to his house via the Folk Festival. We timed our visit to coincide with the cloggers. Bentley enjoyed watching them, but when the next act came on, a rather quiet folk singer, he let us know that he wanted to go. Turns out he didn't want to go home, he just wanted to go out in the lobby and climb up and down and up and down the two sets of big staircases. He was furious when we made him leave and he didn't quit screaming until we were half way to his house. His opa had not witnessed a meltdown of this magnitude before. He really should have taken that nap!

So, did Bentley benefit from his cultural exposure today? I'm sure he did, although perhaps not as we expected. The talented acts at the Folk Festival might not have held his attention for long, but the architect of the Wendy Williams Auditorium has his full praise. (The staircase at Loussac Library is also a big hit with him.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Snapshot: Bentley

One of the parenting books I plodded through recently (How to Behave so Your Toddler Will Too) suggested that periodically you (and your child when they're old enough to talk/write) answer a set of questions about the child, to provide a fun journal to look back on. Bentley can't talk yet so I figured I'd start off with some questions/answers about him that I'm sure I can get right!

Current favorite book(s): This varies week to week, as he tends to fixate on a few particular books for about a week at a time, then the agony (for the adult reader involved!) ends and we get a new selection. Currently he favors Goodnight Gorilla, Finding Nemo, and We're Going on a Bear Hunt (although only the first 5 pages of this last book - then we have to start over, and over, and over...).

Favorite food: Brownies, without a doubt in my mind! My reasoning? This is the one food he NEVER refuses and it's also the one food he can't seem to get enough of. I'm always the one who has to say "you've had enough"!

Bed time: 11:00 p.m. - when we're on schedule! We've been working to institute a 10:30 - 11:00 p.m. reading time in his room before bed, but he oftens convinces us to read just one or two more books. I have to include his bed time in this snapshot so when he's older he can't claim we were overly strict parents! I should mention he doesn't get up until 10:30 in the morning so this bedtime isn't robbing him of necessary sleep. :-)

Favorite activities: Abstract art work using crayon and marker media, pushing trains around the track and down ramps, playing with his crash and wreck racecars, thrill seeking through chair diving (see previous Cabin Fever post!), wrestling with his siblings (he normally wins), and reading. Bentley is always up for a good read-a-thon.

Newest words: Why? Penguin. Blanket. Three, two, three go (he hasn't mastered one yet!).

Most Commonly Used words: Yeah! Go. No way.

Favorite color: This is a tough one. I have no idea - so lets say his favorite color is the one he can say? That would make it yellow!

Fears: the monster under the drain in the bath tub. You might wonder where on earth he would get the idea there's a monster down there? That would be thanks to his Father, who recently realized that children won't know to be scared of monsters in the closet, under the bed, in the bath tub, etc... unless someone takes on the important responsibility of letting the toddler know those creatures exist. Thanks a lot, Dad!

Current aspiration: Bentley yearns for the ability to open the pantry door all on his own - it would make his access to the 10 lb bag of chocolate chips less restricted. Hopefully he'll talk more soon so he can share some of his other goals, although I have a feeling talking in sentences (or even with more than 50 words!) is not extremely high on his goal list.

and... that's it for now! Stay tuned for upcoming snapshots about the twinks!


Bentley surprised Kara and I yesterday afternoon when he ate down his whole waffle and then when I got him out of the high chair he headed straight to the freezer for another waffle. I thought he might be yanking my chain, but I dutifully prepared another half waffle which he woofed down and then indicated he wanted more. He didn't eat a bite of the second half, but we were still impressed that he ate one and half waffles. I even got out Mark's camera (which I loathe) to take a photo to record the unusual event.

Earlier that day Bentley had requested pasta from his mom. After she made it, he refused to eat it. Since he's been sick this past week his eating has been even worse than usual. We're all thrilled when he deigns to eat. Eat, Bentley. Eat!

Still Sweet

Mark took exception to my latest Jackson post. He feels that Jackson is gaining an undeserved reputation as a cranky baby. He wants it noted (again) that Jackson has been sick and that he hasn't been THAT bad. Well, the truth is that Jackson has been unusually cranky for a number days (mornings, afternoons, evenings, nights) in a row, however, he is not typically cranky. When he's not ill he's good-natured. He's quick to give a smile. His parents can get him to laugh, but I haven't acquired that ability yet. Despite the fact that he doesn't practice as much as his twin, he can scoot backwards just as far and fast as she can. He's a quick study. He watches her do baby tricks and then, when he feels the moment is right, shows off his talents surprising us all. He likes people and enjoys being held. He's a sweetie--yes, even when he's ill.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cranky Jackson

I was planning to write an upbeat post about Jackson (I recently posted about Genevieve and so did Kara, so a Jackson post is definitely overdue), but life is not upbeat for Jackson currently. He's not a happy baby. Oh, he has short, brief periods of happiness, but the vast majority of the time when he's awake he is very cranky. VERY.

Did I mention he's sick? So is Genevieve, but she's much quieter in her misery and she has much longer periods of normal, happy baby behavior between the bouts of cranky, ill baby behavior. Jackson does not handle illness well. He pretty much wants constant adult attention when he's awake. If left on his own, he grouses in a shrill cry. Just a few minutes with him doing that sets your nerves on edge. You want to leave the room or, as his parents joke, put him in another room by himself. Of course, that's not very nurturing of us, so we resist the urge to do so, but, I have to admit, it's a persistent temptation.

But then there are those times when he's too miserable to even grouse. He just lies there with big tears in his eyes and then we all feel bad that we haven't been more attentive. However, with two other sick little ones (yes, Bentley has been sick, too!), there's just not enough adult energy to go around. Matt is a walking zombie because the babies (primarily Jackson) don't let anyone sleep well at night. Kara visits us to have access to extra pairs of hands to hold cranky babies. It's been a long week for everyone--but probably longest for Jackson, poor little guy.

The cranky Jackson photo above doesn't do a great job of capturing the moment. I have a hard time getting Mark to take photos of the grandchildren when they're crying. He wants to comfort the baby rather than record the unhappy event. I think if you're documenting the life of a baby, you have to have at least a few crying baby photos since all babies cry at least a little. Of course, I haven't had him document diaper changing and that's another universal baby activity. Hmm... Well, here's another universal baby habit--napping! It's a relief for baby and caregiver.