Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dolly Wars

On Monday Jake and Viva had a dolly war during nap time. Viva climbed into Jake's crib and brought along her new favorite dolly. It was a score from the past weekend's garage saling. Kara claims that Viva picked it out.

Viva likes dolls and sometimes drags them around, but she hasn't before shown a strong preference for any one doll. However, this is the newest doll, so it is the current favorite.

When Viva crib hopped and brought Dolly along, Dolly attracted Jake's attention. He decided she was a fine addition to his crib and he grabbed her and would not let her go.

When I came into the room to do a crib check, I took Viva out of Jake's crib, but left Dolly with Jake since he was really enjoying his bonding time with her. Viva was livid. Whatever. I figure there should be some penalty for jumping into your twin's crib uninvited.

I went back to the craft room (which is across the hall from the toddlers' room) and told Kara what I had done. Kara immediately went over to the toddlers' room and took Dolly from Jake and gave her to Viva. Poor Jake started howling. He had grown quite attached to Dolly.

I told Kara that Jake ought to be able to keep Dolly, but Kara insisted that Dolly was Viva's (as are all other dolls except maybe one from a twin set of dolls). I stole Dolly from Viva (again!) and gave her back to Jake (again!).

To appease Viva I took her out of her crib and rocked her for few minutes. She much prefers rocking to dolls. Kara and I let Jake play with Dolly while I rocked Viva and then we asked him to give Dolly a kiss good-bye and give her back to Viva. He was happy to do so. (Like most males Jake only enjoys baby tending for a brief time period.)

No More Fun

Our fun times have come to a halt. Jake and Viva are both sick. Jake has croup and Viva has a high fever. On Wednesday it was beautiful outside--in the 60s!--and the children spent all day inside except for a brief time on the deck. Being sick is just not fun.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sword Fun

Would a little boy's toy box be complete without a few weapons of war? I purchased the toddlers a set of foam swords. I bought one for Viva, too, just to be fair, but I didn't expect her to get into the action much--and she didn't. Bentley knew right away how to hold the sword and once I showed Jake how to hold it, he was good to go, but Viva insisted on doing it her way. She would not put her fingers around the grip, but instead held the guard between two fingers and her thumb. Needless to say she could not control the sword very well.

The boys tried a bout of sword fighting with their great-grandmother. She indulged them because it was better to armed with a sword of her own than attacked when defenseless.

Bentley can be quite fierce when sword fighting!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Peg Fun

You may have noticed a theme with my recent posts--fun, fun, fun! Small children are delightful to spend time with because they get truly excited about little things. They will laugh and giggle and sometimes even jump for joy when offered the chance to play outside or to play with a favorite toy like the blocks or pegs or trains. We adults like special treats, too, but we don't usually express ourselves so exuberantly.

A couple of months ago I purchased a set of Lauri pegs for the children. The set of 100 pegs comes with multiple hard foam pads to aid in building structures. The little ones don't play with the foam pads much, but they love the pegs. Here's all three of them playing together with the pegs.

Here's Bentley lining the pegs up around the Nilo table.

There aren't enough pegs to go all the way around, so he put the foam pads over the last few holes. Quite creative. I tried to convince him to put pegs in every other hole, but he did not like my suggestion. He did not like Jake playing with the pegs either, so Jake had to play with the cars instead.

Some days the boys build long poles with the pegs.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bubble Fun

This afternoon we asked Jake and Viva if they wanted to go out on the back deck and chase bubbles. Jake immediately danced his way to the front door with giggles of delight. This wasn't in response to the word bubbles--he can't possibly remember the last time we played with bubbles--but it was the idea of going outdoors that excited the little tyke. He and his twin eschewed the back deck and demanded release to the front driveway.

Kara blew bubbles for them and they were participatory until Jake saw his new favorite puddle and headed straight for it. "NO!", we all shouted. Friday when he went outside for playtime he jumped and jumped in the puddle until his pants and shoes were soaking wet. This is not good when the temperatures are only in the low 40s!

I attempted to recreate the American Gothic photo this afternoon, but (as usual) my models were completely uncooperative.

I'm going to keep at it until I get a good American Gothic pose with the toddler twins. I need to find a child-size pitchfork. The plastic hoe I handed Jake this afternoon didn't work at all. I'm going to dress the twins more appropriately, too. Jake needs overalls and a suit coat. He has both items. Viva needs a somber dress which she does not own despite the dozens of dresses in her wardrobe. Somber toddler dresses are hard to find! (Do the Amish have a website?) A child-size pitch fork will be hard to find, too...unless the costume store has a little devil costume with a pitchfork prop?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Yard Toys Fun

Thursday morning I hauled the children's yard toys out from under the front porch and washed them off with the hose. Bentley was very excited to see his toys from last summer. He told me "I want to do everything right now!". Jake found a few of the toys interesting, but Viva wasn't much enticed by anything. The twins don't remember the toys from last summer. They were only a year old.

I found the little slide, a Little Tykes basketball hoop, a toddler size lawn mower that shoots water, a small scooter/ride on toy, a large dump truck filled with Mega blocks (for outdoors?), and the two largest toys--a sand and water table and a picnic table.

Bentley took one look at the little slide and asked where his big slide was. It took me a minute to understand him. He wanted to know where his swing set with a slide was. It wasn't under the front porch! It's still in their old back yard awaiting relocation.

Jake had a great time playing with the little lawn mower. When Bentley finally got a turn with it, he was unhappy because only one of the sprayers on it worked. He knows it had two last year. Bentley practiced shooting hoops until the ball got too muddy. He (and Jake) are picky about stuff like that. Viva, on the other hand, within a minute of being outside found the only mud puddle left on the driveway.

Earlier this week we drug out of the garage the kids' Little Tykes car, ride on dump truck, and the trike, so the kids are now ready for lots of fun times outside this summer. I'll be happier when the temperatures are warmer and the mud is gone, but the kids don't seem to mind either problem. They just want to be outside running around.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Playground Fun

Wednesday in the late afternoon Mark and I took the toddlers to the neighborhood school playground. It's a 12 minute walk, if the twins are in a stroller. Jake hated being in the stroller and begged to get out ("I want down! I want down!"), but it's difficult herding three toddlers across a busy street, so we ignored his pleas. Viva likes riding in the stroller so she made no complaints.

At the playground, the twins were a little hesitant. Last summer they were still too young to enjoy most of the playground equipment. Given that the school playgrounds are built for 5 to 12 year olds, it's not surprising that a 1 year old has a hard time using the equipment. Bentley at 18 months loved the school playgrounds which amazed me given his small size at that age.

I encouraged the twins to try out the slide. Viva wasn't too thrilled with her first trip down, but her second trip she seemed to enjoy. Jake was happy enough with both trips, but neither twin raced to take a third trip. Viva liked the swing a lot, but Jake wouldn't even give it a try which surprised me because he absolutely loved swinging last year. ?!

Bentley had a good time both sliding and swinging, but then he needed to use the bathroom so we had to cut our visit short. (Unfortunately we have yet to convince Bentley to use the bathroom before a trip anywhere. He insists he doesn't have to go. End of discussion.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Sometimes I look at the grandbabies and I'm awed by their cute factor. Looking at this photo was such a time. The toddlers were anxious to get outside to play. They are lined up at the door waiting for us to unlock it so they can "run and jump" as Bentley says.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Muffin Makers

My baking helper, intently eying the product and ready to do some official food taste testing:

We love muffins at our place. To be completely correct I should say I like to make muffins, Bentley likes to eat (some) muffins, and the twins? Viva will shovel them in and if Jake is in a generous mood he'll eat one or two mini muffins before throwing the rest at his siblings.

When Bentley was a little guy (long long ago, of course) he enjoyed all types of muffins and quick bread. Pumpkin, banana, zucchinni... not a problem. I could slather the butter on and convince him to chow down. He has since moved past that all inclusive bread eating and become more selective. His current favorites are Poppy Seed and Martha Stuart's Cranberry and Zucchini Muffins. Touch a banana muffin? No way!

Viva will eat all flavors. Jake, as mentioned above, will sometimes eat some and sometimes not. I'm not sure what's with that - doesn't he know we're a very strongly carb loving household? I'm trying to win him over. I love the convenience of baking a few pans and then freezing them to pop in the microwave for breakfast. And I can even tell myself they're almost healthy. You can put carrots, zucchini, or pumpkin in your muffins. You can add pineapple, apples, cranberries, blueberries... sometimes I even get extra sneaky and put some whole wheat flour or flaxseed. Good stuff!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Alaskan Sun

Bentley is NOT too sure about this whole Land of the Midnight Sun! All winter long he was disturbed because he'd take a nap, wake up, and it would already be dark. We'd have almost daily arguments because he didn't want to go to sleep, because that would mean it would be dark out. I think he believed that his nap caused the sun to set. Why not? To a 3 year old the world does revolve around that one very important little person.

Now we're having different problems. He tells us he can't go to bed until it's dark out at night, and with the days getting longer... well, you can figure out where this is going. He thinks bed time should be moved a little later every day! And as for nap time, with that bright light shining in the afternoon? I've been busy shopping for the perfect curtains, I can assure you.

I found him some you tube videos that explain why the days are shorter in the winter and longer in the summer. As you can tell by his expression while watching, he might not completely get it yet.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Carrots and Carrot Cake

Check out these gorgeous (if a little rich on the beta carotene front - I was a little too quick with the red portion of the food coloring) marzipan carrots friends and I made to decorate our lunch time carrot cake dessert!

Cute, yes?

Spring Time Driveway Fun

For those of you living in warmer parts of the country (there are many!), you may not recognize the outdoors seen in these pictures as spring. BUT. I say:

1) the temperature is above 32
2) the calendar tells me spring has begun
3) we can't waste any of our spring and summer, because winter will be back

The kids are liking the ability to stay outside and stay (relatively) warm for longer periods of time. Check them out, running up and down our crazily long driveway.

Okay. I mis-spoke. I should have said check out Bentley & Jake, running up and down the driveway. Viva isn't always into running with the boys.

Next up? Trikes and sidewalk chalk should be a great time with this driveway! Anyone want to come join us for a chalk art competition?!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stubborn and Willful

We thought Bentley was stubborn, but we have since learned he's a mere amateur. Viva is way more stubborn and she's been at the game a lot less time. Let me give you three prime examples of Viva's stubborn and willful behavior.

The past few days Viva has refused to stay in her crib at nap time. She gets out of her crib and climbs into Bentley's. Sometimes he's awake, but if not, no problem. She simply sits on top of her slumbering sibling. More often she climbs into Jake's crib. Sometimes he's okay with her visiting, other times it makes him very crabby. Again, she cares not if her guest host is happy or crabby, awake or sleeping. If she's not visiting her brothers' cribs, she's trying to escape the room. Fortunately for us, she is not quite tall enough (or her hands aren't large enough?) to turn the door knob on the bedroom door. Jake can turn the door knob, but for whatever reason chooses to stay in his crib.

I have returned her to her crib eight times during one nap period. It would have been more, but I gave up. One time when I grabbed her out of her twin's crib and deposited her back into her crib, she had the gall to complain that I left her dolly behind in Jake's crib. When she crib hops she takes her doll, blanket, and sometimes even her bear, with her. Ridiculous. Viva is up long after her brothers are sleeping. She is very persistent.

Another persistent habit we cannot break is playing in the dirt of the potted houseplants. She has a favorite plant that is on top of the children's bookshelf. She takes handfuls of its dirt and throws the very dry clods on the ivory carpet, the Diego couch, and on the bookshelf. How fun!!? GRRR! She gets in BIG TROUBLE. She doesn't care. She does it again. Just this afternoon Jake came and got me to show me what she was up to. The boys know it's totally a bad thing for her to do, but she doesn't?! I think not. She knows it's an off limit activity, but she indulges herself anyway.

Another bad indulgence is when she teases her brothers. When they are happily playing with their cars, trains, puzzles, balls, etc...she sneaks in and grabs one of their personal hoard and runs away as fast as she can. Her thievery makes the boys furious beyond words. Indeed, they start shrieking at her. If the adults ignore her antics, she keeps it up until her brothers start beating on her. Why does she do that?!

I try to think back to when Kara was little, I can't recall if she was this stubborn and willful at almost two. When you only have one child, it's not a big deal if she doesn't take a nap now and then. With three toddlers, nap time is ESSENTIAL to the caregivers' mental health.

Well, I gotta go...she's in Jake's crib AGAIN. He's tired and crabby and wants his personal space. I can relate to those feelings.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

That Jake

We've been working him hard:

He loves to vacuum. He threw a fit when Grandma tried to borrow the hose back from him. How long do you think we can keep this love of chores going? Hopefully he'll never figure out it's a chore and not a treat! Now if we could just train them to proactively go get the hose and attachment out, clean up after they eat, and then put the vacuum stuff back away. Hmmm... I know, I'm dreaming.

And here's another picture, just because I love those beautiful brown eyes he has:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Eggs Part 2

We used our egg tumbler (kind of like a salad spinner) and some food coloring for some mostly clean fun with eggs on Saturday. The kids really enjoyed pounding on the spinner!

Enjoying their new Easter sleepers and some adorable Easter pillows!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Easter Birthday

I was lucky enough to share my birthday with Easter this year. We went to church in the morning, and in the afternoon enjoyed an Easter Egg hunt at Grandma Karen and Grandpa Tim's place, and then a birthday dinner and evening here at home. The children probably give the day an A+ due to their extra sugar inhaled, and I give it an A+ because of the good time with family!

My Easter munchkins:

It's impossible to get a family picture at this stage with the kids. :-) But we hold them down and try anyway:

We ended the day with a red velvet cake. We were trying for orange velvet but that red dye hogs more than it's share of the color value.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jake and the Case of the Invaded Space

Now that Genevieve has mastered getting out and into cribs she refuses to give Jake his own space.  This is Viva & Jake, after Viva decided her crib just wasn't good enough, threw some toys into Jake's, and climbed on in.  You'll notice the book suffered some damage due to her loving attention.  I'm sure Jake suffered some damage too but he's a tough little guy and he's not talking.  :-)  Honestly though - Bentley and Jake can both get out of cribs but it never occured to them they should climb in with one of their siblings - I guess that makes her the most social one?

Jake would probably prefer that she wasn't, as she often pokes him saying "Jakey, Jakey!" until he wakes up.  The other day she was put back in her own crib 4 times before Grandma gave up on nap time.  Maybe I should be searching for crib tents....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bentley Art

Some "modern" computer art. Bentley directed Opa as to what to add to this backyard view scene.  Can you figure out what was added??  :-)

And some more "classic" art - crayon work. Bentley's interpretation of a space shuttle!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cookie Dough

We in our home love cookie dough--even more than we love baked cookies. Bentley's favorite is peanut butter cookie dough with mini chocolate chips added. He also likes most chocolate chip cookie doughs. He likes to help make it, too. Jake and Viva like to do whatever Bentley does, but there's only so much toddler help one can handle.

It's not easy keeping all those little hands from getting into trouble.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Easter Eggs Part 1

There are, of course, millions of Easter craft projects floating around the blogosphere lately. We used laminate paper, hundreds of tissue paper dots (lovingly created by Grandma!), and some ribbon and glitter (everything is better with glitter, right?). I was surprised that all the kids enjoyed the project - the twins even more so than Bentley. Our eggs are now hanging in the window. We're ready for Easter!

The twins did the first two eggs in the window picture. I took the time to put their names on the eggs, but turns out I switched my Viva and Jake eggs around. Oops. They're twins, they have to expect this will happen from time to time, right?! Viva and Jake both carefully fluttered small hand fulls of tissue dots onto their eggs, and then enthusiastically sprinkled on liberal doses of glitter.

The two eggs on the far right are Bentley's. With his 1st he favored a minimalist theme, and with his 2nd he basically dumped the whole bowl of dots on top of the egg. Followed by a huge pile of glitter. Whatever works, right?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Where's B Boy?

The past two nights have been rough for B boy. The Parents have decried that he must sleep in his own bed all night--until the sun comes up! On Sunday night they were even harsher and insisted that he go to bed at the same time as the twins.

How's that working? Not so well. The first night mommy had to sit outside his door and put him back into bed numerous times. Eventually he fell asleep, but he was so traumatized that he was hiccupping in his sleep. Mommy felt really bad. B had tried so many different tactics to stay up, but she had remained firm against them all. She even ignored his ploy of "My head hurts!".

After finally getting B to sleep in his bed, mommy had doubts. What if his head really did hurt?! He'd fallen off the bar stool earlier in the day and banged his head on the hardwood floor. This is the same head (he only has one!) that he sliced open last fall in Mexico on a marble floor. Did he hit his head on the same spot?! Mommy could not handle the stress of worrying and carried the sleeping B to bed with her so she could keep a close eye on him all night.

Last night B was allowed to stay up a little later than the twins, but then it was the same hard line of staying in his own bed all night. Now B is a very bright boy and he knows better than to cross mommy. He knew he couldn't get mommy to change her mind. He tried to convince grandma, but grandma supported mommy. (Whether she agrees or not, grandma supports mommy when mommy lays down the law. Grandma, too, knows better than to cross mommy.)

So what did B do?! He wasn't going to sleep in his bed, but he couldn't sleep in mommy and daddy's bed or in grandma and opa's bed. It was time to find a new bed.

You can imagine the consternation on our parts when we discovered the B was not in his bed. Mommy did her nightly bed check on her way to bed and there was no little toddler in B's bed. Mommy figured he had finagled his way into grandma's bed. No, he wasn't there. Mommy checked with daddy--did he sucker daddy into letting him climb into their bed? No. Grandma then helped mommy check B's bed again. And Viva's bed. And Jake's bed. And under B's bed. And in the closet.

Okay...things were getting odd. We weren't panicking yet because we were pretty sure that nothing bad had happened, just something odd. Grandma went looking downstairs while mommy scoured the upstairs. Mommy found B sleeping behind the kids' bathroom door. B's small enough that he fits while leaving the door still half open. Once again B's sorry plight yanked on his mommy's heartstrings and she carried him to her bed.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Two Rights Make a Wrong

Today Kara and I took the chicklets out to the mall to run around. While there I noticed that Viva had her shoe on the wrong foot. No, Kara insisted, her shoes were on the right feet. Upon closer observation we discovered that Viva had two right shoes on. You'd think we'd easily clue in if the child was wearing two different pairs of shoes (how else do you get two right shoes?!), but the fact of the matter is that Viva has two pairs of shoes that are identical except that one pair is size three and one pair is size four. Viva put her shoes on by herself when we left the house and she took the right shoe from each pair. We were impressed that she got the job done without any help--we're still impressed, but we need to get rid of that smaller pair of shoes. It's a little awkward running in two right shoes.

We've no photo of Viva wearing two right shoes, but here's a great one of Viva with two pony tails: