Thursday, October 29, 2009


Matt took the boys out to a baptismal service this evening and Kara left to give a coupondiva seminar, so that meant Julia and I had the chance to spend some one on one time with Viva. Viva and Grandma spent some time reading together -- Viva has the 10 little monkeys story down pretty good and with just a little prompting can "read" the story. After the reading session Viva wanted to play with the boy's cars. But, first she had to put on her sunglasses so we would not recognize her playing with the cars! She did a pretty good job with putting those sunglasses on and I almost didn't recognize her :).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We Love Puzzles

Bentley, Jake and Viva all love to do puzzles. This is good because they own more than 40 puzzles. They have wooden puzzles, foam/crepe rubber puzzles, and cardboard puzzles. They have musical puzzles, peg puzzles, magnetic puzzles, small travel-size puzzles, and big floor puzzles. My favorites are the Ravensburger frame puzzles. They are low cost, beautiful, easy to store, and challenging to do.

The children spend some time almost every day working on puzzles. Jake and Viva are very proficient with the younger age peg-style puzzles, but they need a lot of help with 12+ piece jigsaw puzzles. They can do smaller jigsaws, but you don't find a lot of jigsaws with less than 12 pieces.

Bentley can do all but the newest (our first 100 piece) jigsaw puzzle on his own. Last week I gave him a new 43 piece Ravensburger frame puzzle that was quite hard to do--I know because I worked it with him the first time. Ravensburger frame puzzles are wonderful with all the pieces having unique shapes. Bentley did his new puzzle without any help whatsoever the third time he took it out. He is very, very good at puzzling.

The twins will be good at doing puzzles on their own once we work with them enough to give them the needed skills. It takes a fair amount of time and patience from adults to help young children learn to master and enjoy jigsaw puzzles. Two year olds aren't very adept at larger jigsaw puzzles and when they get the puzzle all finished--and you allow yourself a sigh of relief--they turn it over and insist on doing it again. Repetition. Repetition. Fun. Fun.

Jake is starting to be able to put together sections of the 12 piece jigsaws on his own, but Viva isn't as interested. She likes doing it with me, but not on her own. This might be because we haven't any princess puzzles. I bought Viva a 9 piece Dora puzzle and she really liked it.

Most jigsaw puzzles are boy-oriented. Probably half of all children's puzzles are vehicle or dinosaur themed; the rest of them are mostly animal themed, not particularly girl-oriented. I have yet to find a flower puzzle in the children's section. Not that Viva would find flowers compelling in the same way that Bentley and Jake find trains and back hoes and dinosaurs and sharks and lions compelling.

I am working on tracking down some princess puzzles. It's not that easy. I'm not import Cinderella from Europe. (Perhaps I should go there and buy it?! This might be the perfect excuse I've been looking for to get back to traveling.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Crazy Cookie Eaters

First, picture an empty space to represent the 3rd cookie.  Now - can you guess which cookie should be assigned to each child?  :-)  It says something about them!

Bentley said: I'll eat the outside of my cookie, but I don't want that messy candy corn hershey in the middle.  Uck oh, no way!
Viva said: I'm going straight for the gooey goodness, but forget the rest of the cookie now that I've butchered the poor thing!
Jake said: This cookie is good.   Yummm!  I'm going to eat it all.

Crazy kids.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

*Old Style* Film Clip of my ball players

The boys, playing ball together. They're crazy kids!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Okay... so maybe they aren't both looking.  BUT - they are standing still.  That's something!  Do you like the clothing discrimination?  One dressed way up and one dressed down?  Viva doesn't mind leaving her dress on after church.  The boys?  As soon as we walk in the door they go racing upstairs to rip off their church clothes and regain the comfort of jeans and a t-shirt.  Sheesh!

The Music Festival

We took the kids to the World Music Appreciation Festival at the Native Heritage center last weekend.  (sheesh - that was quite the mouthful!!!)

We went last year, too, so we figured it would be fun to check it out again.  Our reviewers had mixed opinions on this idea apparently - check out these expressions.

At least the adults were smiling, right?!  It's hard work having a fun time!

Maybe they'll appreciate it more when they're a little older?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Halloween Foam Art

Grandma found some fun foam art Halloween themed kits at the store a couple weeks ago, and the kids (and Grandma and Great-Grandma... !) had a great time creating some *masterpieces*.

It is interesting how they have different styles.

Jake favors sparse. Viva stacks as much as she can on the page. Bentley? Somewhere in between the twins. I like to think he has a bit more of a sense of "style". Maybe, maybe not?!  Jake did 2 pieces for us, and that was it.  Typical for Jake and a crafty type project though - he lost his interest and ran off to play ball.  Bentley did a number in all different colors.  Viva?  She did 4 of them, all in purple.  No desire to stray from her foam color of choice... :-)

Bentley did a larger piece of art too.

Lastly, here is Great-Grandma's masterpiece!

We've been trying to get into the Halloween spirit around here.  We've made paper bats, paper pumpkins, paper chains... we've baked pumpkin bars, read pumpkin books, and we're getting ready to bake pumpkin pie and eat pumpkin marshmallows.  Maybe I need to branch out from my pumpkin theme?!!

The kids have also selected Halloween costumes (strangely enough they have rather definite opinions on what they want to be already... aren't they starting kind of young with this assertiveness?!), and 2 out of 3 of them are here and ready to go.  Ebay, I love you.

It's crazy around here!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jackson Has a Ball

A visual demonstration of the racquetball technique he's working on. Be kind - he is only 2, after all! :-)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Viva Trivia

Genevieve.  Where to start?

She's quite articulate.  She has many great expressions, and loves to start conversations.  I'm never quite sure what she's going to say next!   She is very good with her thank yous (so are her siblings, come to think of it!) and I hope please is a natural soon too.

Viva can be a destroyer.  She is always the one with food on the floor.  The one who accidentally maims the books.  The one who starts tearing at the finish on the play table... you get the picture!  She likes to use her hands, she's a tactile learner, and she's not afraid of a mess (unlike her brothers).

This little girl is a princess.  I believe I've mentioned this before - she is very into Sleeping Beauty right now, and likes to let us know that she's a princess.  She even requests dresses and pretty hair bows sometimes - occurrences which warm my heart, of course, as I'm hoping I don't have a 100% tomboy on my hands!

Genevieve loves to draw.  She's still more of an abstract artist than anything, but crayons are a favorite.  I'm sure she'd love paint and markers too, but due to the above trivia (ie. she's not afraid of a mess) she doesn't see as much of those supplies as she'd probably like to.

Her favorite book?  Disney Princesses, of course.  Purchased by her father!  She is a good sport about most books though, and gives me MUCH more variety in her night time book selection than her brothers do.

Like Jake, she can count to ten.  Unlike Jake, she needs a BIT more coaxing.  I lay out the M&Ms on the table and if she counts them she gets to eat them.  Works like a charm... !  If you ask her how old she is she's likely to tell you 5, 8, or some other ridiculous number!  She knows it too.  If you ask her again, she will reluctantly come back with the right answer - 2!

Viva is my shopping buddy.  She's always up for a quick trip to the store with me, and behaves quite well on our excursions.

She's my little blondie.  She's also my high pitched shrieker - a new addition to her voice tool box that I'm hoping she decides to graduate from.  Soon!

She's not always (understatment) a great listener.  She has a bit of a defiant streak, and always waits until the LAST possible moment before obeying.  I'm sure this trait will serve her well with something, someday... but for now?  It makes her a bit frustrating to deal with sometimes!

But, to make up for it, she can be very sweet.  She likes to share, and she is normally willing to help her brothers when they ask her.  She gives her Dad back rubs, and she often shares kisses.  She's good with names and loves to play with other little kids.  That is... as long as they don't get too close to her favorite toys!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jake Trivia

I am amazed (and not biased, of course!) at how well my little people talk. The twins seem to talk a lot more than Bentley did at their age, but maybe I'm just getting old and not remembering well....

in my opinion they are even somewhat understandable. The jury is out on that one though, as not everyone can understand everything they say! They are always willing to repeat themselves though, until you get it right. Or until you ask their older brother that they're trying to say - he's a pretty good interpreter.

Wait???! This post is about Jake! Moving on to our main subject...

Jake's most common phrase is "Bad Bentley". I'll let you decide what that says about their relationship. :-)

He's the most affectionate of the kids, he does a great hug, likes to snuggle, and gives kisses - I love this about him!

If you don't pay too much attention Jackson will count to 10 for you - but once you ask him to repeat it he grows silent.

Jake is going to have a future in baseball. He's mastered tossing the ball with one hand, and hitting it with the bat while it's in the air. He probably shouldn't be doing this inside, but it's hard to remember that since he's so darn cute!

Nothing makes Jackson angrier than a lack of clean jeans to wear in the morning. He's quite fixated on jeans. Obsessive even! Luckily for me he's proactive and keeps an eye on the situation, letting me know when a laundry run is necessary.

This kid is also my proactive builder. He drags out the Duplos or Megablocks and builds himself tall towers, without any help. He loves construction!

Jake is a great eater, and sometimes seems to have a bottomless tummy. He normally starts his morning with a waffle, and then asks for yogurt/fruit/granola bars/cereal... some of everything of what everyone else is having. He doesn't want to miss out. He's normally willing to try whatever is for dinner and eats with gusto! Lately he's been running back downstairs right before bed time to plead, with great passion, for cheerios and milk. He shovels it in like we starved him all day - so not true!

My little guy is not quite an artist. He'll normally give us about 5 minutes for an art activity and then he's out of his chair and off to play. The other day we did water color and, for the first time, he stayed at the table just as long as his brother and sister. Maybe it's his medium... ?!

Lately his favorite books have included "Go Dog Go" (which I am SO tired of that I told him I had to return it to the library - even though it's not a library book!), and "Little Blue Truck". Definitely a creature of habit, conforming to the stereotypical toddler image. There were tears last night when I told them they could chose their bedtime story from among selections I was going to make.

Although still a homebody, Jake is becoming more outgoing! He has started weekly visits (which his siblings have been doing for more than a year) with his Grandma Karen & Grandpa Tim, and he's loving it. It took him a while to decide he wanted to participate, but apparently he's quite the charmer now - he stays all evening and doesn't want to come home!!

Jake loves his older brother. We can convince him as to the merits of an activity/action by invoking Bentley's name. He's (sometimes) nice to his sister, too - they enjoy many tea parties. They're into make believe right now.

To wrap it up? Jake still has a beautiful smile and a great laugh. When he's happy he's very charming. When he's not happy? Ear plugs and a good hiding place from him might not be a bad idea. It's a good thing he's normally in a good mood!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Car Show!

A couple weekends ago Matt and the boys went to check out a "fancy" (as Jake and Bentley call them) car show.  They had a great time and apparently Bentley was a hit with the vehicle owners as he wanted to take a picture of every single car - he didn't play favorites!

Here are some of B's pics!

On a side note: Viva didn't go along, because she isn't quite the car buff that her brothers are.  However, she understands that to "be" in their world she has to take a little interest in the world of transportation!  Sometimes she even makes an effort to point out the construction vehicles on the road, to impress her brothers.  :-)

** This last car, the blue one, I'm told was a favorite!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bentley's Campfire

With the temperatures dropping and campfire opportunities about to wrap up for the year, Bentley finally decided to give it a go with his Dad.  Matt and the twins (one at a time) have been enjoying camp fire outings this summer.  Sausage, smores, and some chips.  Simple pleasures!

Bentley, after one aborted attempt at camping, refused to go anywhere near these excursions.  In the spring he was all hyped up about the idea of camping.  Until about 5 minutes before it was time to hit the road.  When he realized camping trips involve staying over night, away from your home.

They hit the road anyway, but Matt couldn't convince Bentley to pitch the tent.  They seemed to have a good time, but it wasn't until a couple weeks ago Bentley was reading to do anything that sounded at all like camping - including a fire outing!

Pictures, courtesy of Bentley (except for the one of Bentley, of course!!).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

More from the mind of Bentley

The kids and I have been battling it out at night time lately.  I think they're a bit out of control with all their pre-sleep demands so I'm trying to reign them in a bit.

Last night we put on pajamas, brushed teeth, and read stores.  We said prayer, tucked the kids in, and gave them their last drink of water for the night.  They got kisses, they got tucked in again, and we said good night.  (Sure sounds like a long enough routine, right?!).

If only they would keep their mouths shut and actually jump right into the activity of sleep.  I wish!  I had to go back in the room, (more than once) and tell them that if they couldn't be quiet the door couldn't stay open.  On one of these trips Bentley stopped me with:

"Mommy, I need to talk to you!"
Me: "Bentley, I'm done talking to you tonight!  You're supposed to be sleeping!"
Bentley: "Mommy!!  Don't talk then.  You just listen.  I'll talk."
after no reply from me as I try to exit the room...
Bentley: "Mommy!!  Are you there?  I'm talking to you still!!"

Hmmm... it doesn't appear that I am getting through to my toddler despot yet.

While we're on the subject of conversations in the toddler room...

I often go in to find Viva screaming.  What does her older brother tell me, in response to her cries of "Bentley's mean!!!"?

Bentley: "I wasn't talking to her, Mommy".
Me: "what were you doing?"
Bentley: "I was talking to myself!"
Me: "About?"
Bentley: "I can't remember"
Me: "Try harder"
Bentley: "Oh, about Viva.  I was telling myself that she's not my Viva, or Jake's Viva"

Brothers.  They can be cruel.

Another popular line?  It started out the same way, with Viva shrieking about a mean Bentley...

Me: "Bentley, what did you do to your sister?"
Bentley: "I didn't DO anything to her, Mommy!"
Me: "Then why is she crying?"
Bentley: "We were just talking, Mommy!"
Me: "About what?"
Bentley: "Oh, this and that"
Me: "What this and that?"
Bentley: "I was just teasing her a little bit"
"I told her the earthquake is going to come while she's sleeping and swallow her up"

Sheesh.  At least he's creative??!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Kids At Play

Bentley with a toy that used to be mine (it's getting up there in the years!).  He told us this is a dog.

Jake with his most beloved of toys (which, technically, was a birthday present that his older brother received!).

There's always more to say on the phone!  Bentley has great skills - he can conduct both sides of the conversation all on his own.  :-)

Brownie Pops!

We had bookclub (for church) here at our place on Tuesday, so I took the chance to make some brownie pops for dessert!  I baked way too many of them, so on Wednesday the kids (& their friends - playdate time!) dipped and sprinkled their own brownie pops.

And then?  They ate them.  And dripped chocolate all over.  Except for Bentley, who prefers his food to be clean.  He decorated his brownie pop and then request a plain one to eat.  Goofy kid!