Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chocolate Souffle Playdate

On Saturday we had over our friend Nichole and her children Macy and Kylie. Nichole and I both had our husbands out of town on Saturday, so it seemed like a good time to get together and eat chocolate souffles for dinner!

The babes played with kitchenware:

The toddlers ran wild:

It was a great time all the way to the end wrap up. It was getting a little late - but we made it through the end of the movie with all the children in good spirits still! When Nichole tried to start up her truck the alarm system engaged and wouldn't let her turn on the engine. Earlier I'd moved her truck to the side of the driveway, so I could get out of the garage to grab the movie, and I somehow turned on the alarm system?! Her cousin ended up being called to come over, drive her home to get some different keys with a control for the alarm, bring her back... and they then made it home a little later than planned upon (sorry, Nichole!).

Note to all of you out there that really love your playdates: this is a great way to get them to stay longer. Disable their vehicle!

Night Night, Daddy!

Matt's in Las Vegas for the week for a work conference. We hope he is busy learning lots and lots so he can pass his internal audit certification exam in June - we miss him!

Bentley *trapped* Matt on the phone tonight for a good 30 minutes and engaged his Father in a very long discussion on ladders, trains, cranes, fire trucks, and "guys" (the ones who operate all these things). Sometimes it was 2 guys and sometimes 8 (the newest number he can say). They discussed how very high the ladders go and how neat the fire trucks are. :-)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Viva & Baby

The post title may lead you to believe this post is about the twins, but really it's a Bentley post. Bentley has mastered the name Viva. Viva, No! Play Viva, play! Mommy, Viva bottle. Go away, Viva! Morning, Viva! He's got the name down pat - that's for sure. However, he refuses to even attempt Jackson. He is content to let Jackson keep the label of "baby". When I ask him if he can say Jackson he always gets a cute little smile and says "NO! Baby!". So it's Viva & the baby around here, at least from Bentley's point of view. It's not all bad to be the generic baby though - it means Jackson isn't quite as picked upon. Genevieve hears quite a bit of the "go away, Viva" refrain. Jackson, on the other hand, doesn't have to put up with that. I tell him to enjoy it while it lasts!

Watch us Grow: The Chair, Revisited

In honor of the 10 month birthday, here are the every other month chair shot pics - scroll down to see reverse aging!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

10 amazing months old!

Jackson & Genevieve are 10 months old today, and it's mind boggling how much growing and learning they've been busy with. We'll start with the growth. We're almost to the point where we'll transition out of the infant carseats into toddler ones, and they certainly fill out their seats differently than they used to!

Here they are fresh from the NICU:

And here are my *giants* this past week:

They've come a long way, haven't they?! They've more than tripled in weight. Along with the weight increase has come a ton (or two) of personality that fills up their adorable little bodies. We're enjoying the journey and every month is better than the last.

They get into EVERYTHING these days, and nothing delights them more than havoc.

Both the twins have some new tricks this past month. We'll start with Jackson - he is coming along with his ball rolling/throwing skills, which is certainly increasing his stock with his older brother!

He is super fast with his Spider Man crawl, and sometimes goes so fast he does a header (literally) into the floor because his arms and legs get tangled in his haste. Jackson is going through an adult chasing phase, and loves to be held - he quite vocally demands it, in fact. I think he dreams of a world where he's cuddled 24 hours a day. He still loves food, although he seems to be a little pickier than his sister - there are some textures he's not entirely certain about yet. He has a good sense of where he shouldn't be and loves to head off for the forbidden lands. When I go after him he'll pause to glance over his shoulder at me and then head off again laughing at the chase. Jackson is a clever little guy!

Genevieve is very vocal and busy. We're predicting she will be the go to idea girl of our trio when they're trying to decide what type of mischief to get into. It's amazing how much trouble she can find and how quickly she can find it! She loves to eat everything - including grass and dirt. She doesn't mind a mess. She "sings" very loudly. She has a twisted sense of humor (in my opinion). When I say "ma ma ma" she consistently (and I mean EVERY time) says "da da da" back to me. Unfortunately the trick doesn't work the reverse way. When I say "da da da" she says "da da da"... silly girl! Despite this small character flaw, she's a charmer. She gives great big smiles and has no problem entertaining herself. Here she is celebrating her big 1-0 birthday with a 1st: pigtails! She's the cutest thing ever, I think. :-)

Our house is a happy one (normally, that is - we have our moments of group screaming!). Bentley and the twins play together, and the twinks are big and mobile enough to hold their own against him. They make each other laugh, they chase each other, and on rare occasions they even share toys nicely. Sometimes they beat on each other, but that's okay with me - it's all affectionate, I'm sure!

Happy 10 months, cherubs!

Snow Stats

Here are the official stats on yesterday's late winter snow storm. 15.5" of snow fell at the National Weather Service office on Sand Lake Road. That makes April 25, 2008 (from midnight to midnight) the third snowiest day on record. Records have been kept since 1915. The monthly snowfall to date for April 2008 is 29.7 inches which is more than any other April on record. The seasonal snowfall total is 109.1 inches making the winter of 2007-2008 the 6th snowiest for Anchorage--and we may not be done yet, so we might move up in the rankings. How cool is that?!

PS The big storm didn't shut down the airport. Anchorage knows how to handle snow. Matt flew out last night for a week in Las Vegas.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Winter Returns

Here's a photo from yesterday evening:

Here's a photo taken this evening:

I don't have the official stats yet, but I'm pretty sure today will be one of Anchorage's Top 5 Highest Daily Snowfall dates. Depending on where you live in Anchorage, 11-20" fell.

What did the munchkins think of the snow? Bentley did NOT like it early in the day when it fell on him and his coat and his shoes as he was carried from the car to our house and from the car to the library and back to the car. However, when given the opportunity to shovel snow with his dad, he had a great time and was okay with being snowed on. How contrary of him!

Jackson was loudly indignant about being placed in the mound of snow that had accumulated on the patio table.

Genevieve, our little adventurer, thought it was good fun.

Spring in Alaska

This past week has been very nice. On Wednesday the high was 57! That is balmy in Anchorage. (Our definition of a heat wave is a week in the high 70s.) The snow is gone from many yards in our neighborhoods. Kara was so inspired by the nice weather that she bought the kidlets a sand and water table and a picnic table for the back yard to go with the swing set purchased last fall. (Their great-grandpa Roy funded these purchases.)

Yesterday evening Kara put together the sand and water table and the picnic table. While she was working on doing that, I let Bentley out the French doors into the back yard. He headed right for the basket ball hoop. He later tried out the slide. He enjoyed himself until he fell and got the knees of his jeans wet. He does not like to be dirty or wet.

Genevieve liked the sand and water table. She has nothing against being wet.

Jackson LOVED the swing. He laughed and grinned. Genevieve had some odd expressions on her face while swinging. Sometimes she looked happy, but other times she looked a little ill.

It was a fun time for everyone, although we should have put coats on the littlest ones. Their hands were frozen when we took them inside. Kara pulled out a hot water bottle to warm them up.

Right after we went inside and put the kids in their warmest sleepers, fire trucks started pouring into the neighborhood. Matt, who was outside doing yard work, went over to check out the action which was two blocks to the west. Next Mark went over with his camera to get a shot of a fire truck for Bentley. Then Matt returned and took Bentley over to see the fire trucks. It was a garage fire that was quickly contained. It was amazing how many fire trucks showed up!


So what do you think we woke up to this morning?! It was a dreary, cloudy day. Then it began to rain. Now it's snowing big, fat flakes. Lots and lots of them. I don't usually mind snow this time of year because it goes away quickly and it's lovely to watch falling, but it's annoying today because the threesome won't be able to enjoy their toys in the back yard. It's just too cold for their little hands. The sand and water table will be a sand and slush table today. BRRRR!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Stair Master

Mr. Jackson is the new super star (for the day, at least) at our house! The twins have been experimenting with stair climbing on and off for the past couple weeks. Genevieve is indifferent at best and careless at worst about the activity. She'll go up a step and then stand up and twist around to look back down. Not too smart. She then loses interest.

Jackson, however, loves the stairs! He seems to feel they're on the forbidden list of activities (which when I'm not watching closely is a correct assumption), so he gets triple the joy out of tearing off for the stairs. Today he climbed all 2 flights of them at top speed, giggling with glee the whole way. What a clever little guy!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Twingles & Cupcakes

Yesterday morning I decided to make chocolate cherry cupcakes. I was ambitious and even went the extra mile, topping them off with homemade buttercream frosting! I was, of course, excited to provide my newest creation to the little tykes. Not surprisingly Bentley refused the cupcakes - I guess he was thinking they looked suspicious? I'm not sure!

Genevieve attacked her cupcake with gusto, shoving it into her mouth. We're not sure how much she actually ate as a large portion of it ended up in her bib/on the floor/on the high chair/smeared on her face... but she enjoyed herself, and that's what matters!

Jackson surprised me, and refused his cupcake! He tried picking it up a couple times, but the frosting and the whole tactile experience of the cupcake was NOT up his ally. He stared at it for a while, looking dubious at best, and only tried it when we fed it to him. This lack of desire for messiness reminds me of an older brother I know...

In any case, the baking was time well spent as watching the twins interact with their cupcakes provided good clean (hah!) entertainment. :-)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Cute Couple

Daddy & Daughter, need I say more? :-)

Bentley Takes Part in Hostile Takeover of Downtown - Kids Day 2008

Anchorage tries really hard to be one of those places where everyone wants to live. Mostly because for 8 months out of the year, people are reminded by the cold, snow, and dark that it's probably not where they want to be. Kids' day here is the break-out session for thousands of unruly children and their parents who suffered through the long winter with them; in other words, the police, army, and fire crews break out into teams to test their battle-preparations and new riot gear.

Bentley and I (Dad) had the chance to partake in this extravaganza. Our first stop of the day was to go to the flight museum out at Lake Hood (the floatplane base at the airport). We detoured on the way to pick up Opa, as he was nearby ... and dad had forgotten the camera. While Bentley was initially agreeable to picking up Opa, Bentley was sure that he had been decieved when we turned off International Airport road to go to Opa's house. My backseat driver yelled and pointed for me, as though I were a foreign cab driver, "Uh-uh NO - ME - fly!", assuring me that he knew a better route. Despite our flag stop, this was the only real unhappiness to the day, I'm happy to say.

None of us had been to the airport museum, but I had heard good things about it. Surprisingly, it's a few hangers of reclaimed (not repaired) aircraft, a few donations from Uncle Ted, and some nice displays regarding war efforts. I particularly enjoyed the large section commemorating the Royal Canadian Air Force and their efforts to protect Alaska during WWII. In any case, Bentley and I took the time to fly the flight simulator (we plan to get one for home practice soon), and he seemed to enjoy the model aircraft roughly the size that he could play with at home. In other words, the full size planes hanging from the ceiling and the helicopters in the 4th hangar just weren't that exciting from a 2 year old's perspective. Bentley did seem to enjoy watching a few planes land and take off on Lake Hood, especially since they still had their skis on. Opa had us check out the small planes parked nearby, and then it was time to drop Opa off and proceed downtown.

Bentley was really hoping to see the firetrucks and go check out their equipment downtown parked next to Grandpa Tim's office. You may have read about a previous run-in with the ladder-truck before. Unfortunately, someone decided to call the fire department and they had to go away with their sirens on just as we were pulling up. Forge ahead we did, and we still got to see a fancy military forklift and four wheeler. I'm not sure what they were doing, but it was exciting to see them move around a pallet of bricks. Well, that's what Bentley said.

The other military exhibit was the Ordnance Response team from Elmendorf AFB. Actually, this was pretty cool. They had the anti-bomb robot out, and a mannequin dressed up in full chemical weapon garb. Little kids (7-12) could put on the full body armor for the munitions disposal team, and get their picture taken. So, 5 more years, and maybe we can do that again. In any case, we learned that mannequins are scary, anti-bomb robots are cool, and the soldiers really like the chance to play with the kids.

Stopping in at the Egan Center with about 6,000 other children and their parents, we checked out just two booths: the Mad Scientist exhibit, where there were the coolest bubble displays, and the booth for the Natural History museum. The lady said the Natural History museum would be free for the day, and that they had dinosaurs, including a T-Rex head. So, we decided to head to mountainview. Since we missed out on the firetrucks, I thought I should do my part and make it up to Bentley.

Just down the hill from downtown is the railroad depot. We drove up and down the rail lines on Post road, looked for heavy equipment, and saw all sorts of COOL stuff. It wasn't long before we were checking out dinosaurs, stuffed Alaskan animals, and a variety of animalia and skeletons, though.

Bentley wasn't so sure about the T-Rex when I pointed out how big his teeth were compared to my head, and the mountain goat was super freaky, but for some reason the wolves were great and the two full-size dinosaur skeletons were of interest. The Eagle and Owls were pretty neat too. Bentley did NOT like: the bear cub, the lion, the human-skeleton, the hawk, the cave-bear, the musk ox (zoo incident), the caribou, and the sea monsters. Oddly, the goat seemed to make the lasting impression, as that was the one animal he told everyone about in the evening.

After 4 fun hours of looking at exhibits, equipment, planes, and trains, we decided to take another hour and check out the animals at the pet store. I think Bentley really likes the colorful birds. Puppies are funny, fish make him curious, gerbils/hamsters/mice just aren't as great as they seem to be in the books, but birds... you don't leave the bird section until he's ready.

So went Kids Day 2008. Next year I think I'll take a stroller... and maybe we'll find the firetrucks FIRST. This was definitely better than a rainy day at the Fair!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Original Artwork!

The atom - as visualized by Mr. B, our in house artist!

The Home Zoo

We don't have to travel for the adventures and fun times, as I often feel like I live in a crazy zoo house with wild creatures:

What's new around here?

Blue. The mysterious perplexing and somewhat frustrating blue. Bentley uses the term blue in many many phrases - and although we've put some time into trying to puzzle out what it may mean we're still unsure. But it's very blue around here!

Jackson is regressing in the crawling arena. I reported a while back that he had perfected a "normal baby" crawl, but he's moved past that. He now crawls like: a) a baby wearing a dress (which I assure you is odd because we don't put him in dresses!), b) a monkey, or c) a bear (Great Grandma's take on the odd posturing!). Here's the cute little nut:

I asked my Father to get a shot of Genevieve, the "normal" crawler, to post next to this picture. As soon as the camera headed her direction she pulled out a good imitation of Jackson's crawl - very tricky, don't you think?! I know they understand us when we speak!!

What else is new? Genevieve has a 3rd tooth - 1 for the top now! She delights in gnawing away on my knee, which results in delightful wet patches on my jeans. The things I put up with... :-).

I was telling Grandma about my dear daughter and the fact she bites me, and Bentley picked up on the expression. He wandered around for half the afternoon saying "bite me"! He had the tone just right, it was very cute and I laughed every time.

Perhaps she's busy chewing on Jackson, too, when I'm not looking - I've noticed Jackson has taken to proactive assault lately. Yesterday he slammed his sister into a wall (grabbed her hair and pushed, of course!). She crawled away, crying, to sit in a different part of the room. He followed her and pushed her over! The interaction is growing by leaps and bounds...

Speaking of interaction, Jackson and Bentley have been busy bonding! They chase each other through the kitchen and dining room every morning. Bentley crawls to accomodate Jackson's slower pace - what a thoughtful brother - and they giggle up a storm. That is - they giggle until it turns into war and then I normally hear cries of outrage from Jackson.

It's a zoo around here!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Jackson Can, Too

Jackson can perform all the baby tricks that Genevieve can, but he usually chooses not to do so. He can stand unaided. Yes, Genevieve will stand for longer periods of time. She likes performing for her adoring audience. Jackson has better things to do with his time.

He's a busy guy.

Who has time to stand around?

Jackson can walk holding on to the little ride-on cars just like Genevieve does. He has done so a couple of times. Genevieve is a little more skilled because she practices. Her mom works with her on pre-walking skills much more than she works with Jackson. Genevieve is a delight to work with. She smiles and laughs and does what you want her to do.

Jackson is not fun to work with. He has noodle knees and usually won't even try to perform. He does not focus on the task at hand. He has his own agenda and crawls away right in the middle of your pep talk. Genevieve would never do that. She likes listening to us. Not so Jackson.

So, I just wanted to set the record straight. Genevieve is not that much more advanced than her twin brother. Jackson can perform when he wishes to. We haven't found the right motivation yet.

Flash Free Friday

I decided to give the kidlets break today and take all pictures without flash. I think that this is a first for them and they probably appreciated it. It is pretty tough indoors without a flash, but fortunately there was enough sunlight during the lunch hour to assist in the lighting and then we turned up the lights this evening to help out. The children were all in a good mood and enjoyed the change of style.

First, Jackson showed off his martial arts tiger pose:

Then Genevieve showed the casual resting with a book pose:

And finally, Bentley strikes an investigative what is going on underneath the table pose:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cruising towards walking?

Genevieve is turning into a super duper standing machine. She's been pulling up on everything in sight since she started crawling, and just this past couple of weeks she's started pulling up to standing on people and then letting go to practice her balance. We've noticed in the past week that she can sometimes stand for a good 10 seconds before (gracefully) returning to sitting.

Today Genevieve stood up in the middle of the kitchen - from a sitting position - without grabbing onto anything for assistance. I think that's a very impressive trick!

Yesterday I introduced Genevieve and the back of the scooter car. I showed her that if you hold onto the back it can be used as a walker to get you where you want to go. She used it to walk from one side of the dining room to halfway across the living room (plowing over toys in her way) last night.

And what about Jackson, you ask? If we're lucky we can convince him to stand on his own for a couple of seconds, but it's not something he practices without prodding! As for the scooter car - he leans backwards while holding onto it which causes him, and the car, to fall over backwards. He'll get the hang of it, but he's not quite there yet!

The Great-Grandparents Revisited

Two weeks ago I told you about my and the grandchildren's Wednesday afternoon tradition--visiting their great-grandparents. I finally got custody of the pocket camera to take with me for some photos. The photos are lousy, but I'm posting them anyway because I've little hope of doing better next time. Since my mom's house isn't baby-proofed, I can't do more than take a quick click before I have to run off and grab a baby or toddler.

Our afternoon started a little off kilter. Just before dropping the kids off at my house, Kara had taken Bentley to get his hair cut. He had not yet recovered from the trauma when he arrived. She suggested I take some trains with us because he'd been expecting to play with them. I scooped up four trains and some track on my way out the door and added it to the toy bag.

When we arrived I took them out for him to play with. He was excited. He sat on the carpet with his little hoard and guarded it. Jackson wanted a piece of track (or maybe an engine), but Bentley was NOT NOT NOT in the mood to share. He started shrieking hysterically whenever Jackson crawled in his direction. My mother was quite amused by the drama. (It was pretty funny.) I asked Bentley if he wanted to set up his track inside the baby pen so he could play unmolested. He jumped on that offer. This is the first time I recall using the pen to keep the twins OUT.

Another unusual occurrence was that great-grandpa played ball with Bentley. Bentley borrowed a couple of the twins' Fisher-Price balls and he started rolling them down the coffee table. Great-grandpa would catch them and roll them back. Bentley had great fun--I hope that great-grandpa did, too.

A third odd event occurred. (I take the camera out to give you a quick sketch of our typical play date at the great-grandparents and it's not a typical day at all.) I forgot to bring along the second play pen. I momentarily thought about putting all three kids in one play pen to nap, but that just wasn't a serious option. I thought about doing naps in shifts, but that doesn't give me any free time.

I decided to try to get Bentley to fall asleep by taking a nap with me on the couch. It worked! He fell asleep after we read a couple of books. He stayed asleep for quite a while after I slipped off the couch and left him there on his own. (If you recall, he'd had a hard morning, so he really needed some down time.)

What were the twins up to while Bentley played with his trains, with their balls, and then napped? They spent part of their time exploring the living room and another part of it confined to the baby pen. Jackson kept trying to escape the living room, but that's not allowed, so he was captured and returned repeatedly. Genevieve attacked the plants by the windows. Jackson read a magazine; the grand-parents have a large stack that needs whittling down and the twins help out every time they come to visit.

I fed them. There are no photos of that because I didn't have enough hands to contain the two babies, let alone one to take photos. To do so would have meant baby food everywhere. Since there is no high chair at my parents' home, it's hard enough to keep them still long enough to shovel the baby food in. I gave up trying to feed both at the same time and fed them one at a time. They took a nap together without too much protesting.

I attempted to get a nice photo of my mom with all three children. I bribed Bentley with a piece of Alpia chocolate to stand still. He took the chocolate, but he didn't stand still long enough for me to focus and click. Jackson meanwhile was doing his best to squirm out of his great-grandma's hold. My mom laughed at my attempts.

It was a good Wednesday. Great-grandma had her time with great-grandbabies and ran her errands. Kara had a few free hours to do with as she liked. She had lunch with friends and then ran lots of errands. I encourage her to stay home and read or nap, but she almost always runs errands. If she stays home, she paints the bathroom or hallways. Silly mommy! Free time is for playing or sleeping, not working.