Saturday, May 30, 2009

To two toddlers, two miles is too far to trek.

Tonight, Bentley and Jake were reintroduced to "Daddy walks" when we went out to Westchester Lagoon for our first WALK of the Season.  It seemed like a great starting point - three different directions available... walk to Valley of the Moon park, go south on the Coastal trail toward the airport, or north on the trail toward the port.  Bentley chose to go north. 

When it comes to walking, I figure, no pain, no gain.  Since Jake and I started out limping (him from his shoes cramping his feet, me from breaking a toe the other day), I figured we wouldn't go too far, but we'd have fun anyway.  Bentley and Jake both got interested in the walk though, and kept prodding me (us) to go further.  By the time we got about 3/4 of a mile down the trail, we spotted the train through the trees and were at a great resting point... which worked out well since I'd already been carrying Jake for 5-10 minutes.  So we hung out for a minute waiting for the train to come to us.  Just as it got to where we were, it stopped, and started backing up.  

What's a dad to do who doesn't wish to disappoint his dudes?

Grab them and start jogging after the train - that's what!

By the time I gave up on that idea and sent Bentley out ahead as scout, it was too late.  The train was gone.  I tried to encourage Bentley to keep going a little bit further to a good turnaround spot, but he started saying something about his feet hurting, and needing a ride back to the Tahoe, now just short of a mile back.

Needless to say, the boys and I had a great opportunity to bond while I hustled back to the Tahoe carrying all 53 lbs of them watching the storm clouds approach quickly, with a very "brisk" wind to encourage us ever more so. 

[And then nothing bad happened for the next 20 minutes except when I wasn't watching Bentley for a moment and he wasn't watching me and there was no blood nor bruises as a result so we're all ok.]

Jake's shivers stopped a few minutes after we got back to the car and had the heater on full blast, and we topped off our adventure by driving down to the train station and watching the big passenger train switch tracks in one of the hardest rains I've seen all year.

It sure beat our original plan of going for a hike up the mountains tonight, which are now blanketed white in fresh snow!  

Our Reward?  Fresh Strawberry Shortcake cookies from Mommy when we got home!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mmmmmm.... chicken!

Viva loves, loves, loves a good mouthful of protein. Beef, chicken, fish, pepperoni, pork, ham... once she gets a taste of meat she normally comes back for more. She eats all her meat and then turns to whomever is sitting closest to see what they have left. In the picture above she headed straight across the table upon discovering Grandma was the only one without an empty plate.

Beef is a particular favorite of Viva's but lately she has been insisting on calling it chicken. She eats chicken too. She can say the word beef. I THINK she can tell they taste different. But for whatever reason she prefers to call her cows poultry. I don't get it.

Now if she would just start working out instead of wimping out at the prospect of extended exercise... she could build some lean mean muscles with all this protein she's been inhaling!

We'll get there. :-)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thankful Thursday #3

It's been a gorgeous week, with just today a little bit of rain getting in the way of our outdoor nonstop sun.

This week we are...

Thankful for the ~ 80 elementary schools and ~ 80 municipal parks that Anchorage has to offer. That's a lot of choices for a lot of fun to have!

Happy to have friendly neighbors! The 5 year old and 6 year old neighbor girls love Genevieve. They'll ring the door on occasion and ask if she can come out and play. I like that they like little kids.

Lucky to live in Alaska where we have all sorts of great options to enjoy the big outdoors. We had fun on short "hikes" with the kids over the holiday weekend. Thunderbird Falls and Potters Marsh!

Loving how loquacious the kids are. It is delightful (mostly!) to know what is going on behind those big eyes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bentley & A Fave Book

Recording Courtesy of Opa. Background chorus provided by Jake. Interested in this awesome book? Go here. The kids highly endorse this book (and the author in general!).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weighty Tomes Dad Selects

Inspired by a posting from last week, I thought I should give some perspective on the books the kids read with their dad (me). For the most part, I like word books. I also like educational materials, inspirational materials, fun, adventure, science, math, economics, books where I can do voices ... and so I expect the kids to enjoy it with me.

As some of you may recall, Bentley's first book with me was Stephen Hawking's A Briefer History of Time. We followed that up with selections from the Book of Maps, a collection of historically significant maps which I received for Christmas. Bentley seemed to enjoy reading time, so I stuck with what worked. It helped that he was less than two months old and a very captive audience. To date, he and I have read a very large selection of books from his shelves, some from mine, and a few more we picked up along the way. Most recently, we've been adventuring through canyons as we read about the tales of Hank the Cowdog.

On the repeat list (for a third time through) is Ralph S. Mouse and the Motorcycle (by Beverly Cleary). Unlikely to make it on the repeat list: the Baudelaire orphans in the Series of Unfortunate Events books... we made it through #3, but it just didn't hold anyone's attention. The Spiderwick Chronicles helped us get through the early days with the twins, though Bentley had to continually shake me awake and say "Read Daddy!" It wasn't uncommon for him to give up on me, grab his blanket, and go to his mom. I think we may have to revisit that series with the twins soon.

We enjoyed Stephen Hawking's children book George's Secret Key to the Universe, and we recently started reading my illustrated Atlas of the Universe book together after we finished a book of satellite photography for the world called The Complete Earth. Bentley's mostly interested in pictures of "robots" (satellites, landers, and rockets), but I think he enjoys it all - he sure has a lot of questions about everything we look at.

We read parts of Tales of Beedle the Bard just after Christmas, but there were parts a little too scary in there for him, so we skipped sections of it. We've been working our way through Eragon for a LONG time. The dragon just doesn't stick around long enough to keep up the interest level. Come to think of it, it's probably been an in-progress book since October of last year. It's almost like a memory test to see how far back a toddler can remember going that long.

The library has supplied us with several fun books, most recently being some Shel Silverstein stories about Runny Babbitt. There was also a book about some city in a sky which was well received by all three, as was a book about the Alaska Railroad. (Noting a trend here - all three of these books were illustrated and intended for children).

Now that it's summer time, we probably won't make it through too many [long] books. Of course, since no one's going to bed like they're supposed to, maybe I'll just start reading some fun biographies and math texts I bought last week to help calm them down... I wonder if they'd like to learn about Archimedes next week?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Holiday Weekend

Hurray for long weekends! Although the weekend doesn't hold quite the appeal that it used to when I worked a 9 to 5 job, a long holiday weekend is still something to get excited about. A whole extra day of Dad around, and chances for adventures for the kids? Sounds good to me! (Not, of course, that the children and I don't adventure non stop every day!)

The kids and I had the chance to kick off the holiday weekend a bit earlier than Matt (who was still slaving at work on Thursday, alas) with a beautiful picnic with friends. They are the site hosts for this lovely Alaskan summer hiking destination. Isn't their "front porch" gorgeous?!

Saturday morning Matt & Bentley went to their 2nd Lowe's Build Clinic. I'm not sure how much work Bentley does versus how much Dad does, but, nonetheless - bonding time. Right? :-) They give out little merit badges you can sew on the Lowe's Apron. Preparation for Boy Scouting... ?

I, of course, went and hit a few garage sales early in the morning. Because what is a summer Saturday without at least one thrifty find?

When we all made it back home we headed out for a picnic at Potter's Marsh. I like to remind my husband (and myself!) that when we set nice small goals for fun with the kids we're more likely to succeed in having a good time. 3 small children equals easy melt downs and not too much patience once they get tired. So - short outings? A good plan!

We had a great time. The kids ran up and down the board walks. We saw a few birds, some fish jumping in the water, and a moose.

Viva, who tires a bit quicker than her brothers, got sick and tired of running. She was a bit disgruntled at how hard she had to work to get a ride:

Jake, educating himself on the wildlife in the area:



The view!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Viva Girl

Because there are too many great pictures, and just not enough time. Viva keeps getting bigger!

Now if she would just leave in her hair things... I think it would really help her pull together her look. :-)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thankful Thursday #2

2 down, 100s to go?  It's a habit in the making!

This week we are...

Again, loving all of the gorgeous sun shining down on us.  The kids spend hours and hours outside playing.  We're enjoying our driveway, we're enjoying the zoo, and we're enjoying the parks and playgrounds.

Excited about the wild life we see around here.  The kids have been enjoying the moose, squirrel, and rabbit sitings!  (I might not be quite so excited about the animals when the garden comes under attack, but for now?  It's fun for the kids!)

Grateful for books.  Piles and piles of books!  As mentioned, we love to read.  I'm happy the tykes seem to have a love of books.

Lucky that the kids love vegetables.  Well - carrots and snap peas and peppers and green beans and broccoli at least!  Although we have some food struggles I'm glad that vegetables are not one of them.

Thankful for all the great help family gives us with the kids.  Bentley and Genevieve love their time every week (they both have a day!) that they get to go see Grandma Karen and Grandpa Tim.  Also, obviously, the help from a live in Grandma and Grandpa is very appreciated.  Grandpa took the boys to the park tonight while Viva went shopping with Grandma and I.  (Daddy is back in Barrow).  Grandma puts in hours (literally!) with us every day.  Thank you to all the Grand Parents!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Let the Fun Nights Begin

Today my Mother and I took apart 3 cribs and moved 3 toddler beds into the holding cell (also known as the toddler room). (Thank you for the hours of service, Grandma!!)

This story started a couple years ago when I eagerly bought my first born a toddler bed. We talked it up, Opa's one and only quilt was finished as a "bed warming" gift for the little man, and then... nothing. Bentley was just not into it. And that was okay with me - I figure the crib kept him confined, and he didn't seem too interested in climbing out of it! So we moved on. The toddler bed went back to the garage and we remained a 3 crib home.

Fast forward to recent life. All the kids climb out of their cribs at will. Viva isn't too graceful and often crashes out. Jake is great at getting out but he can't get back in! This morning found him sleeping in the hallway after a failed attempt to go back to his bed. :-)

This past weekend I found a $10 toddler bed in new condition at a garage sale. Soooo... my mother urged me to buy it. The bed was carried up to the nursery, where it became clear that 1 bed and 3 children just would not do. The twins were brawling over it! At this point I confirmed my fear that in the move I somehow lost the parts to put Bentley's toddler bed back together again. Drat. 4 hardware stores later I found all the pieces needed to make it whole once more. 1 trip to Walmart for the 3rd bed, and we are now a 3 toddler bed household!

Viva was a little uncertain about the removal of her crib.

I think she's over it though - the twins were having a jump fest with the new beds. I'm not sure they know that they are for sleeping on. I wonder if they know sleeping is required and not optional? I hope they know because 1 crib was sold on Craig's list tonight, and the other has a sale lined up for the morning.

Next up: installation of my door chime that will alert me, with a lovely chime wherever I take the receiver, whenever the bedroom door is opened. Isn't technology amazing? How did "they" do it before? :-)

Wish us luck with nap time and bed time. I think we may need it!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Double Rainbow

We had a gorgeous double rainbow visible out our back window this past weekend.  The kids (and the parents!) were quite impressed!

And then today? A baby moose off the back porch!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Off to the Library Again!

We're a family of book lovers, as has been mentioned before. The kids have piles of books up at Grandma Karen and Grandpa Tim's place. Grandma Vicki sends us packages with great new books that we are always very excited to receive. One of my favorite garage sale finds? More books for the kids. One of Grandma Julia's buying weaknesses? Books for the kids. Something that Daddy likes to stop at the store once in a while and buy for the kids?

Books! Books, books, and more books! You can't find a room in this home without at least a couple piles of books in it. And that's a beautiful thing. We read in the morning. We read in the afternoon! Daddy always reads a couple books (and then lets himself get suckered into a couple more!) at bedtime. And when Daddy's done often Jake & Bentley try to sneak off to Grandma's room to get in a couple more! We love reading. The twins have gone through phases where they're more or less willing to sit and read but lately they're starting to catch the reading vision. Bentley has always been happy to sit and read - even weighty tomes his Dad selects (Stephen Hawking sound like light reading to anyone??).

I prefer board books. Not too many words, and lots of pictures to talk about. They're clever (some of them!) and to the point. Any fellow Sheep in a Jeep lovers out there? Daddy buys books with lots and lots of words. I let him read those lovely Disney stories over and over - he bought the book, he can do it! :-) *** Note: I do know how to read those books with more words! And as the kids are getting bigger we're reading more longer books - but those Disney ones? There's just something about them... !

Bentley and Jake have been loving Curious George lately. Bentley can finish the sentences on every page in a few of his George books. Jake really likes animal and car books (like a certain other little boy I can recall...). He sleeps with his big book of animals. Viva? I'm not certain that she has a favorite book. We're still teaching her not to rip books or stand on them. She has a bit of destruction in her nature. Grandma might say more than a bit of it. We have some books about Lola & Charlie(a fun series) and Genevieve insists on calling Lola Dora. There's my Viva trivia. :-) My new favorite is Madeline - a classic, I know, but one my Mom found today. The books rhyme. They're clever and cute!

Bentley reads to the twins sometimes. He reads Bill Martin & Eric Carle's Polar Bear, Polar Bear book to them. It's cute. On a side note he's teaching Viva to count. They get to 4 and then her attention wanders and he gets irritated. But what can he expect?? He's working with an almost 2 year old!

Okay... back to the original inspiration for the post. Yesterday our library kicked off their summer reading program for kids with a big outdoor event on the library lawn. We have a gorgeous big library here in Anchorage, and we try to make use of it frequently. The kids saw parrots and dogs, watched some juggling, listened to some music, checked out the polar bear exhibit, and attempted to pose by the fountain. It was a sunny spring day, and a fun activity!

And, of course, the kids signed up for the reading program. Because you're never too young for reading, and lots of it!

Did I mention we love books and reading?

Saturday, May 16, 2009


A year ago Jake was more an observer of the trains and the built tracks than an active builder with his brother:

As for activities done together, most of the pictures I can find involve some type of tussle:

Fast forward a year and Bentley and Jake are busy having lots of fun together! They spend hours building train tracks and race tracks. They chase each other outside. They are best buddies at the park. It's a good life! (most of the time... !)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thankful Thursday #1

Hold on to your seats! I'm planning to introduce a new regular "feature" on the blog - Thankful Thursday. I've seen ideas like this one some other family blogs I read, and since my blog is also my "journal" to the kids of life when they were young - I like the idea! Gratitude keeps us happy, and helps us focus on all the many positive blessings in our lives. So here it goes, we'll see if I can remember to do this enough weeks in a row to create a habit. :-)

This week we are....

Still feeling lucky to have so many outdoor toys and a fun long driveway to spend hours playing with them on, both on our own and with lots of our friends! Whenever we have a driveway play date it lasts for a couple hours - a sign of a winner activity, right?!

Very thankful for the gorgeous weather this May has brought with it. Sun is good, sun is great! The kids LOVE to be outside. I think if I offered to put up a tent outside they'd be happy to stay out there 24x7.

Happy to be healthy again! Now I don't just feel bad when I'm sick, but I feel bad for the kids (and the constant nose wiping) whenever they catch a new bug. I'm hopeful (ever so hopeful) that they'll outgrow this tiresome "catch all the germs" phase. Sounds like a good plan to me!

Enjoying an extra long stretch of Dad in town time. The kids (and the Mom, of course!) are always happy when Daddy doesn't have to jet off to his exotic home away from home of Barrow. The kids love the extra hours outside playing at our home or the walks to the park, and the extra long bed time story telling time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Camping Fun!

Is it camping if you have plumbing and a heated cabin? I suppose it's probably not 100% authentic camping - but, nonetheless, a great introduction to camping for a group of crazy toddlers.

Here are my trivia tidbits from our weekend adventure to Cooper's Landing:

Jackson loves trail mix. He ate it for snack, dinner, and breakfast. I promise we offered him other foods - he was just in love with the trail mix.

The twins are not mature enough to handle fires (real surprise, right?!). They both wanted to sit on the same small stone next to the fire and kept shoving each other towards the fire pit to claim ownership of the seat. Sweet! Bentley enjoyed the fire (what boy doesn't love fire, right?!) but wouldn't try a roasted marshmallow. Weirdo.

All the kids loved the water. We spent more than an hour or two hanging out by the river and letting them throw stones. Or, at least, try to.

Bedtimes are hard to enforce when you're in a new place.

We enjoyed a Seward "stop by" (a bit of a drive!) on the way home so Bentley could see all the boats.

The verdict? We'll be back out to the wilderness for more child camp training this summer. Thanks for the invite, Larsen family!

I'll leave you with a funny picture. Well - I thought it was pretty funny.

Jake, not sure about waking up from his nap and discovering we were STILL driving! (My kids are not used to long car trips):

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's Green!

I have long been wanting a Vitamix blender. I've spent many an hour (too many, I'm sure) researching them but the hold up on purchase was the Costco factor. Everyone kept saying they were cheaper at Costco and that was the place to buy them. But they haven't been at Costco lately!

With that history in mind perhaps you can imagine how delighted I was to see the Vitamix booth at Costco last week. I didn't quite run to it (I do have some dignity) - but my love of kitchen gadgets, research on blenders, and a desire to eat healthier all came together to help that big blender box into the shopping cart quite quickly!

So. I've been experimenting with smoothie combinations in the search for the ultimate green smoothie (a "real" green smoothie has about 60-70% vegetable content to 30-40% fruit - we're going to have to work up to that). My first smoothies were kind of muddy swamp water green, not too appealing. That's what you get when you add a mango and some blueberries to spinach though. I've moved on to apple, kiwi, lime, wheat grass, and spinach. It's a lovely green color - really! Lovely!

Today Jake graciously agreed to put on a shirt to compliment the smoothie and then he really went out on a limb and decided to try the smoothie (he tripped over his own feet running away from my muddy swamp green smoothie the other day!).

A lovely green, yes?! Viva noticed that Jake was eating without her...

How convenient! Two straws! Jake, ever the sweet brother (other than those 4 bite marks Viva is sporting this week....), assisted with the straw placement.

Twins. Too cute.

Bentley wasn't willing to try my green smoothie today, but there is always tomorrow. Mommy and the Vitamix will get to him eventually.

Is that a threat or a promise?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Conversations with the Bentley

Kids say the cutest things.

Bentley in the entry way, with Viva helping him put on his shoes (the twins have mastered this skill which Bentley still has not!):
"Viva is being very sweet to me, Mommy!"

After building a big block structure:
“Mom, look at my tower! Do you like it? Opa will like it. Take a picture to send him. He will be so impressed!”

Bentley after a conversation about God and praying for what we need:
“Can I pray for Santa to come tomorrow?”

At the dinner table with a big plate of food:
"I’m going to eat all of this up, and then my tummy will giggle!”

In the car with Grandma:
"There’s no one on the school bus!"(says Grandma)
Bentley: "There is a driver on the school bus, but there’s no one RIDING on the school bus, Grandma!"

Coming into my room in the evening, trying to flatter his way into sleeping in his parents bed:
"Mom, you look lovely in that sleeper." :-)

After trying wheat berries, which I cleverly convinced him were just a new type of brown rice:
"I liked it and I didn't like it, at the same time." (very astute, Bentley - I felt the same way!)

And to end with, a long and thoughtful conversation.

It all started when I pulled out a new 48 piece floor puzzle that has a dinosaur scene on it.

"Mommy, what store did you get this new puzzle at?"
"I got it at a garage sale!"
"Where is garage sale?" (thinking it's a store)
"Well… when people have too much stuff, and they don’t want it anymore, they have a sale in their garage. And other people come buy their stuff to help recycle it!"
"And then when they get rid of their stuff they can go to the store and buy more?"
"Well… yes, I guess so."
"There’s a lot of stuff to buy at the stores, Mommy."
"You’re right."
"Mommy we have a lot of stuff in our house."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Baby Yogis

Just when I was starting to think that kids find my yoga kids deck to be completely uninspiring... they give me faint hope that maybe they are paying at least a little attention. :-)

Jake's version of the Downward Dog:

Starting his Sun Salutation!

Darn cute.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Team Work

Jake wanted water. He grabbed a glass, but then stalled out as to the next step.

Viva, a thoughtful sister, helped out.

Team work. What a beautiful thing!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Summer = Garage Sales!

Viva, checking out our newest pile of clothing I found out garage saling! 53 items for 35 dollars. Some of them still had their tags on them, and NONE of them are stained or beat up - all good looking items!

We also have a new trike, a new house and zoo for our Little People collection, some coats of armor for our sword playing, an I Spy Game, 10 new Thomas Trains ($1/piece!), ...

And the season is young, so young.

To be honest, I'm hoping to cut back and take a break this year. But I'm a bit addicted so we'll have to see if I'm able to stop.


Friday, May 01, 2009

May Day!!

In honor of our sometimes tradition of silly looking hats, Viva doned a May Day wreath. Jake refused to wear the cool head accoutrement - which I believe happened the last time we tried an activity like this? He's shaping up to be a .not. .good. .model.. Hmpppph. But here's gorgeous Viva!

Also, Bentley and Grandma planted some sweet peas last night in honor of May Day! Well, okay... they didn't plant them in honor of May Day. They planted them because Grandma loves sweet peas and wants to have some blooming, sooner rather than later, this summer. But since they planted them on the eve of May Day I can say it was a May Day activity. Right?!

Bentley's dislike of dirt and mud did slightly hamper his gardening efforts, even though Grandma did give him some latex gloves. I'm going to have to find (or make?!) him some little kid gardening gloves!