Friday, October 31, 2008

The B.T. days

Back in the before twin days, also the B.B. (before blog) days, Bentley celebrated his 1st Halloween. He was (and still is) awfully cute. These are a few pictures of Halloween 2006. Where is 2008, you ask? Coming soon!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Silverware Unleashed!

One of the sad facts of twin-hood is that a mother has only half as much energy for you. Instead of the full glory of 100% of Mom's attention and energy? 50%. You're jipped. It's not fair.

Just this past week I realized that my neglected babies have been deprived of the experience of learning to eat with silverware. I can't recall (it's been a long couple of years, after all) exactly when Bentley was introduced to a spoon & a fork, but I feel certain it was much earlier than 16 months.

After all - he was my first born. I was totally on top of everything and eager to have him learn new skills. He had his rice cereal at six months, new fruits & veggies 5 days apart, went through the stage 1 / stage 2 / stage 3 Gerber baby foods, right on schedule. I'm positive he was given a spoon before he even turned 1.

The twins? The thought of the mess they'll make is just too much for me. By the time I/Matt/Grandma/Grandpa are done feeding them 1 or 2 different foods, enough is enough. Let them sit there and try to figure out silverware, while making a big mess? Ridiculous!

I know it's a weak excuse. And in my defense, it's not like these thoughts were really conscious ones until I wondered to myself this past week "why aren't my twins using silverware"?! So, of course, once I noticed this large gap in their meal time regime we moved right to rectifying it.

Viva was a pro. She got it within 5 minutes. Maybe I was right to wait!

Jake figured out how to get the applesauce on his spoon. He, however, had no interest in putting it in his mouth. He fed his blankie. Which raises the question, I know: "Why is his blankie at the table"? I'm not sure. You should talk to his Mother about that odd behavior.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

1000 Days

Playing today, and only today, at our house: Bentley, on day 1000!  How do we know these crazy facts?  I'm not sure.  I think it has something to do with some free time and a fun website calculator my Mom found online a number of months back.

I still tell people that Bentley is 2 (which he is!), but just last week I realized that we're only 2 1/2 months away from having a 3 year old.  Yikes.  3 year olds... I don't know anything about those type of creatures!  There's a whole different set of tricks they're supposed to know, right?  Table setting, laundry folding, world capitals, memorized scriptures, piano, reading, writing, math, manners (in no particular order, of course) ... the kid has been busy having fun.  We'll have to get busy, I guess!!

Just kidding.  He has at least a few more years of fun times before we worry too much about most of that.  We do need to get serious about the manners though.  Bentley can see please and thank you, but they're both normally done with a shout that makes it hard to appreciate the thoughtful nature of the words.  :-)

A snapshot of Bentley at "almost" 3:

His favorite song is the ABC song.   A close 2nd is the "Wheels on the Bus", but he normally only sings along to that one on CD.  The ABC song can be heard at all hours of the day.  It is, in fact, a wake up song he sings to his lucky siblings most days.  On occasion he sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which is odd.  That's not something we sing at home.  

Bentley still loves to read.  As opposed to the twins, who still haven't quite reached a sit down and look at books nicely stage.  We'll keep waiting I guess.  Some of the books on his daily request list include: Tumble Bumble, Head to Toes, and The Bear Snores On.  All fun books, although Genevieve has started to cry when we open up The Bear Snores On.  Apparently it's not HER favorite.

Luckily enough for me (or maybe it's not all luck - there's some daily work involved!) Bentley still takes a nice long nap in the afternoon.  He's more a night owl than a morning bird, but I've been working to get him to bed by 10:30.  That may sound late - but it's relatively early compared to when our routine slips!

The favorite expression of the month is "I can not do it", sometimes "I can't do it".  The 1st sounds more dramatic so he pulls it out after the 2nd is ignored.  Sometimes the complaint is valid, sometimes it's used to request help eating, picking up, climbing the stairs, ...

Ball time, car racing (with Jake), puzzles, painting, drawing, Potato Heads, and music continue to be favorite activities.  Eating is still not a favorite activity, although I'm happy to report that there should be more than the 2 lb gain between year 1 and 2 at the check up appt for the year 2 to 3 check up.  Maybe even 6 lbs - we'll see!  With Christmas around the corner perhaps I can entice him to eat?  Bagels, toast, and waffles are favorite fare around here.  Peppers and grapes make the grade depending on the day.  Sometimes noodles, sometimes rice.  Yes, the kid likes his carbs.  And foods that are white.

Bentley enjoys his siblings.  He's always in their faces exhorting them to play with him.  Jake is getting better with throwing the ball and playing a game of catch, and sometimes they'll happily throw the ball back and forth for 30 minutes.  Bliss!  Other times they get out the big dump trucks and planes with wheels and have races on the kitchen/hallway/dining room race track.  This lasts until I have to beg (shriek?) that they stop so silence can reign.  When Jake gets bored of playing Bentley will try to convince Viva to give it a go, but he doesn't normally have much luck.  She's wary of "guy" activities.  She's seen how they wrestle, and doesn't want to get too close.

Sometimes Bentley is a little (or awfully) defiant these days.  His new trick is speaking at the top of his lungs to communicate his unhappy thoughts when he gets in trouble.  We've had more time outs lately.  I'm not sure if they work, but we keep at it!  He has started requesting that Viva & Jake get time outs when he thinks their behavior is inappropriate.  :-)  To counter balance the outbursts, Bentley is also a sweet and thoughtful little man.  He's developing a sense of humor.  He gives more hugs, he likes to help, he shares without being asked, he gives spontaneous "I love yous" out, and he makes good choices.  He's an awesome little guy.  Even if he sometimes tries to argue with me about his clothes for the day.  He always wants to wear the shark shirt or the "I dig my Daddy" shirt.  I like some variety.   Don't worry - I win.

And that's it for the 1000th day update from Bentley's home!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tasty Turnips

Oddly enough, I now have 3 blogs posts in a row that have double Ts for titles.  It wasn't planned. Weird, yes?!

Yesterday being Tuesday, Bentley was off to visit with Grandma Karen & Grandpa Tim.  Normally we see Grandma Karen at pick up time, but today it was Grandpa.  Bentley was eager to head out, and had me get his shoes and coat on before Grandpa even showed up.  He was waiting on the bench watching the door, and leapt on over when I opened it, threw his arms up to Grandpa, and was very eager to head on out!

** Ever since the twins arrived Bentley has really started to value his Tuesday away time with great enthusiasm - do you think he has misgivings about too much time with twins?

Grandpa said: "Should we head up to the house and cook some potatotes up for dinner?"
Bentley says: "No, Grandpa!  I want turnips!"

Seriously.  Turnips.  Apparently he really enjoyed digging them up in Grandpa's garden with him this summer, and he even eats them raw.  I learned something new about the crazy kid today.

In other food news:

  • Jake has some odd taste buds.  He, alone of the three kids, thinks Spagetti-Os are great (I tried them and was horrified at the flavor - I guess I wasn't missing out on anything as a child.  Many thanks, Mom!)
  • Bentley thinks ice cream should be served warm.  Whenever he gets a bite he asks for it to be heated up.  "Too cold, too cold!"
  • Jake can cram an entire waffle into his mouth in about 30 seconds.
  • Viva has decided all fresh fruits are suspect.  Something about the texture, I guess.  The only fruit she'll currently eat is applesauce.
  • My twins save their appetites for Sunday night.  Every Sunday all the kids and Matt head up the hill to hang out with G&G Altman, and Matt comes home with stories about the great variety of foods consumed.  I think the twins are trying to make it seem like I don't feed them during the week!  Matt says they just appreciate the multi dish meals.  I'll work up to it someday, I'm sure...
That's it for now!  Great stuff, I know.  Stay tuned for another exciting food related post coming up shortly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tutu Terror

Today we had a fun play date with my friend Nichole & her 2 daughters, and I asked her if she could bring a craft over - I was feeling uninspired as to something fun to do and I've noticed that Nichole has been busy being  fun & crafty over on her blog!

She came through with a fun project.  No sew fluffy tulle tutus for the girls.  And, in what is a bit of a miracle, we managed to each complete one (well - except for one tiny finishing stitch) while the children played quite nicely with each other.  5 kids, no major outbursts.  Productivity.  It was amazing.

Viva went down for her nap right before the product was finished, so after nap time I dragged it over to my Mom's place with us so she could be there for the grand "dressing".

Viva was not cooperative.  She appears to be scared of her tutu.  Perhaps the very fluffy nature of it throws her off?  I don't know!  She stands very still and screams, with tears and everything.  I'm very disapointed, she was going to be a great Halloween ballerina!  I'll have to try it on her again in a month and hope she's matured.  :-)  Luckily it has an elastic waste so she has plenty of time to change her thinking on this subject!  Maybe she needs to play with more little girls and not so many trucks and balls?  Hmmm....

My Mother laughed at Viva's attitude saying "like Mother like daughter", and pulled out a picture of me expressing my thoughts on my Halloween costume at age 18 months.  Apparently the paper bag was the base layer for the costume, but I didn't allow them the chance to further develop the outfit.  Ornery little kid!

I can still save the tutu as a Halloween costume, though.  I'm thinking that Jake for Halloween will be Viva dressed as a ballerina.  If I'm lucky I can convince Viva to wear Jake's costume; she can be Jake for Halloween as "mystery to be revealed".  What do you think?  I think he can pull it off:

The other option?  Viva can wear a plain onsie with the words "Here is Viva.  She should be a ballerina, but she was scared".

Tough call, I'll have to think on it.  :-)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Troll Triplets

The other evening Grandma (also known as Mom, to me) was helping out with bath time and decided to try out some new hair styles on the kids.

What immediately popped into my mind, upon seeing their cool new looks?

Anyone else remember these awesome troll dolls? So ugly they're cute? 

What do you think? I think my little ones have great troll hair.  That's all they have in common with the trolls, of course.  They're not so ugly they're cute.  They're just so cute that it's almost impossible to put their cuteness into words.  Yep, that's right.  They're THAT cute!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Dinner Time Conversation

The scene:  Bentley, as usual, has been insisting that he is not hungry.  

Mommy: "Bentley, what do you want to eat?  Noodles, toast, rice?"
Bentley: (points to the cute Halloween tin (from Target!) full of Reeses) "I want THOSE!"
Mommy & Daddy in unison: "No, those aren't a dinner food."
I add:  "Those are for after dinner.  You can have 2 if you eat dinner"
Bentley: (after a pause) "No, I want 9!"
Mommy: "Sorry.   Not 9.  Do you know how many 9 is?!!"

9?  That's a new one.  Normally we compromise on 3.  What a crazy kid!

* Update: he came back, just now, to let me know he'd be okay with 3.  

A Scary Crew

It would, of course, be waaaaaay too much to ask to get them all to look at the same time.  I was lucky that they sat still long enough for me to get the picture before resuming their work to push each other off the chairs!

It's been a long couple weeks with the flu bug that hit our place.  2 days ago, after I had the shortsighted notion that we were in the clear, Bentley decided to take his turn with this stomach bug.  So, once again, I've had the fun task of cancelling play dates.  The nerve of that kid!

Although we don't enjoy (not at all, not at all!) being sick it has, at least, served to remind me of how much we all enjoy (dare I even say NEED?) getting out on a day to day basis, even when those day to day adventures aren't incredibly exciting.   The alternative, staying in?  We're all going stir crazy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Can You Believe It?

I received this email today:

Hi Julia,
The book "I Married Adventure" was returned with purple crayon
scribbles on the front cover. We have applied $10.00 in fines for the
damage to the book. If you have questions or concerns, please contact
our overdues clerk, **** *****, at
Thank you,
***** *****

Damage? What damage? I should be charging them for the fine artwork that now enhances the cover of said library book. I think Bentley did a great job of adding a little pizzazz to what was a dull, boring ivory cover. (He limited his art work to the cover.) I should have taken a photo so you could judge for yourself.

My spouse says he's shocked that I turned the book in without confessing to the proper authorities that it had sustained damage while under my care. Again, is this really damage? You can be sure they will continue to circulate the book in its new (and improved) condition, so what is the big deal?

Do you think I should protest this fine or just accept that not everyone appreciates toddler artwork?

PS Lest you think I treat this matter too lightly, I want you to know that I have a great respect for books and take very good care of them. I'm one of those nutcases who puts books in a plastic bag before throwing them in a back pack. I really care about their condition. However, I also have a great respect for toddlers and their need for freedom to explore their environment. In my opinion toddler respect trumps book respect. So sue me...or fine me.

Viva Knows Her Baby Signs!

To be a little more correct the post title should perhaps specify that Viva knows at least one baby sign...

I may have mentioned that I'm not the most dilligent baby signer, but on occasion I do make an effort.  That effort normally involves signing "no".  I was trying to think of other signs I use on a regular basis but I have to admit my favorite sign is no.  I should probably work on that?

Yesterday Viva was making a little more noise than normal during our Sacrament meeting at church, so I leaned my arm across the back of the pew at her and signed "no no" in her face.  What did that darling child do?  In a loud clear voice she repeated what I'd signed right back at me: "NO NO!".

Cute, she's cute.  But she does seem to have a bit of attitude... I wonder where she got it from?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jake: Approaching Symmetry

You may notice I don't post all that much about teeth.  They just don't excite me.

I have to break with policy, however, to update everyone with the exciting news that Jackson may soon have a symmetrical smile.  For ages now the crazy kid has had 3 teeth on top and 3 teeth on bottom.  That's it.  It's been months and months.  In my experience kids get teeth in sets of two, so I find this look of his just a little off.  He's adorable, no question about it.  But teeth are supposed to come in pairs!

Finally, finally, at the ripe old age of almost 16 months, we have a 4th tooth on the top.  Hurray!  Who knows!  In the coming weeks perhaps he'll add a 4th bottom tooth, and maybe some molars for chewing?  It certainly wouldn't hurt a kid who likes to eat to have a few more good chewing surfaces!

Go Jake, Go!!  You can do it!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Tyrant

This afternoon I was trying to get Bentley to eat some food. I offered him noodles and rice from the fridge, but he wasn't interested. He went over to the cupboard and pulled out a box of noodles. I again tried to talk him into eating the already cooked large shell noodles, but he said no.

I told him to ask his mom if it was okay to make the boxed noodles. She informed us that there were already noodles like that in the fridge. I located them and offered them to Bentley. No! He wanted his box of noodles.

Okay, I've played this game before. I told him to put the box on the counter and I'd prepare them. Once he left the kitchen I did the old switcheroo. I hid the box and put the already cooked noodles in a bowl and heated them up in the microwave.

Bentley told me I had put them in the wrong bowl. He wanted the blue bowl. FINE! I put them in the blue bowl. He complained that the blue bowl was wet. (My hands were wet and so I had left some water on the outside of the bowl. He detests that.) I dried the bowl off.

I put a spoon in the bowl and placed it in front of him. He wanted a fork. FINE! I tossed a fork his way. I put his bib on. He was very upset because the bib was wet. I dried the wet spots off. He didn't agree that it was dry. His mother came to my rescue and told him that his shirt had dried his bib. He believed her. (So annoying. I had actually dried it and she got the credit.)

Finally he ate the noodles. I'm starting to think maybe I let that kid boss me around too much. It's just that he's so darn cute and I'm still amazed that he talks so well. I just can't resist him or his commands.

Ill Little Ones

The past week has been a slow one at the Altman household. Last Saturday evening Jake downed his bedtime bottle and then upped it again all over his mother. He was not a happy toddler. Mommy was not a happy mommy either. Getting puked on is not fun. Within a few hours she was sick, too.

Jake had a miserable night even though his daddy sat up with him in a recliner keeping him company. His next day went no better when his parents withheld food and drink from him so as not to have a repeat performance. After eight hours he got a few sips and then was put on half water/half milk rations for the next twenty-four hours.

Jake was better two days later. Kara had body aches for the next few days and by Friday she developed a head cold--just in time to join Viva who came down with a high fever on Thursday. Viva moped around all day Thursday and Friday. She was not pleased with anyone who put her down.

Bentley meanwhile has resisted all the germs and maintained his usual high spirits. Way to go! (Matt, too, has avoided being ill.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Long Awaited Day Arrives

This post is not precisely about the kids. But I was clever and took lots of pictures of them so you will all think it's all about them still. :-)

I have been counting down the months, weeks, days... (you get the idea) waiting for the arrival of my very favorite store, Target, in Alaska. I'm dedicated to the cause. Before they announced they were coming to Anchorage I sent letters to their corporate offices requesting their presence here. Why such dedication? I'm not precisely sure, but for whatever reason I love the place.  It makes me happy!  All of my friends have heard me in the past month reminding them that soon, so soon, our Target would be opening.

I've been waiting for Oct. 12th and the grand opening with great anticipation, and then yesterday my husband tipped me off that the "soft launch" would be today although the grand opening isn't until this weekend.  Awesome!  I love that man!

So, of course, we headed off (like hundreds and hundreds of other bored Anchoragites, we learned when we got there) with lucky Grandma to check out our new Target.

Affirming my belief that Target is awesome we walked in the door and this lovely cart with seating for 3 was just sitting there, waiting for us!

Midway through our aisle wandering, the kids relaxing (a miracle!) in the cart:

The troops grew restless so they were briefly allowed out of the cart to terrorize the Halloween section of the store:

Bentley saying "Mom, you are so so weird. Quit taking my picture in the department store. People are staring. Are you sure Target is really THAT cool?"!

Jackson expressing "I've had WAY more fun than I can handle. I do not like Target and I do not like to shop. TAKE ME HOME and do it now":

And what does Kara say?  Shopping with 3 children, oddly enough, is just not quite as enjoyable as wandering aisles alone - but Target was still fun, and we'll be back - that's a promise!

Monday, October 06, 2008

More construction vehicle fun

Today we were driving through the neighborhood admiring the construction vehicles and Bentley pointed at one asking, "What's that one, Mommy?".

I, being the gullible type I guess, thought he was actually asking me. It turns out he was actually just looking for entertainment. I wasn't entirely certain what it was so I said "Some type of tractor!".

I was told "No, Mommy. That's a front end loader. There's a bucket on the front of if that scoops up dirt.". And then, louder, "A FRONT END LOADER, NOT A TRACTOR MOMMY"!

Sheesh. I appreciate his detailed answer, of course. Maybe one of these days I'll get it all straight. Although, honestly, wasn't I right as well? Isn't a front end loader just a type of tractor? I googled it and google agrees with me. I think I deserve partial credit from the kid. But I doubt I'll get it!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Awesome Artists

Bentley has been an artist for some time now. He does gel ink drawings, crayon drawings, painting, and watercolor art work. He often paints animals--in abstract form. Most all his current art work is abstract expressionism. It's definitely nonrepresentational and highly spontaneous, but he totally rejects the nihilism aspect that some abstract expressionists embrace.

This afternoon Bentley tutored Viva on her first crayon drawing. His work is in the left side of the drawing in green. Her work is in the lower right. She worked on her drawing for a while and then tried eating the crayons. I took them away.

Jake is a very energetic artist. He covered his paper in short order with lots of lines. I was very impressed. I think crayon may be his artistic medium!

Bentley produced one crayon drawing and two watercolors. He told us that the watercolor in gray and brown tones is of hippos.

I'm undecided whether his work aligns more with the action group or the color field group of the abstract expressionism movement. What do you think?

Here's a Bentley watercolor from earlier this week. His opa really liked the fall colors in this work.

Here are two paint on construction paper masterpieces that Bentley created sometime during the past few months. He likes to use a circular sponge brush to create geometric designs.

Kara purchased Bentley some tubes of acrylic paint today, so next week he will get to try out something new.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Viva: A Fun Friend

Genevieve was recently *featured* on my friend Amrita's blog site:

Lessons From Viva

Check her out, teaching her playmates great new baby tricks - that's how to impress your friends, right?!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Music Videos

Bentley loves to watch country music videos. It's probably his favorite form of tv. We don't do it regularly, but every few months I tape a few hours of CMTV and we check out the latest videos.

His all time favorite video is "International Harvester" by Craig Morgan. It features a combine and that's pretty cool in his opinion. He likes to watch this video on YouTube when he can get someone with a computer to indulge him. Before "International Harvester" he really liked Rodney Atkins' "Watching You" which co-starred Atkins' four year son.

These two videos are not typical of his usual favorites. Usually he likes videos featuring female singers. He really enjoys all of Taylor Swift's videos and Sugarland's videos. He likes Carrie Underwood, too, even her most recent video which isn't upbeat or interesting.

Not only does he prefer female singers, he gets down right ornery when videos featuring male singers come on. He demands--shrieks!--that we get rid of them. Brad Paisley has a new video where he talks for a bit at the start before singing and that really sends Bentley into a tail spin. No! No! No!

He has such definite preferences that I can't fully enjoy watching videos with him because he refuses to watch half the videos or more--some of which I want to see! Of course I find most everything Bentley does amusing, so his preferences rule. How is that going to work when Viva and Jake get a little older and start voicing their preferences?! It's probably a good thing Bentley has siblings or he would be spoiled rotten. But then again, Kara was an only child and she wasn't spoiled rotten. She's quite delightful in my--admittedly biased--opinion.