Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We LOVE Eggnog!

Viva and Jake, like their father, love eggnog. Bentley, like his mother, does not. (B's never actually tried it, of course.)

This evening Jake asked for a glass of eggnog. When I reached into the fridge I discovered that the container was almost empty. Ah! The perfect opportunity to introduce a young male to the fine art of drinking straight from the carton.

I had a hard time convincing him to give it a try. In fact it wasn't until Viva said she'd do it and took the carton of eggnog, that he agreed to give it a try.

Why would I want the children to learn to drink from the carton? That's a good question. I have no good answer. I don't approve of drinking from the carton and putting it back in the fridge. Carton guzzling should only take place if the carton has only one serving left!

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's a Killing Thing

Today B and I went to the airport to pick up Aunt Jean. Her flight was late and we were sitting in my vehicle outside baggage claim waiting for her. I noticed a bronze statue nearby that was covered in snow. It was a statue of a man balancing something long and skinny on his right shoulder. It kind of looked like skis, but not exactly. The object was too long for downhill skis and too wide for cross-country skis. After staring at it for a while, I asked B boy "What do you think that statue over there is holding?". He immediately replied, "It's a killing thing."

Seriously?! What is it with males and weapons? It's true that in many towns bronze statues usually commemorate some bloody battle and the bronze soldier would be holding a gun or even a sword, but this is Anchorage. No bloody battles were fought here. How many bronze statues has the four year old ever seen? How did he know that they are commonly associated with decimation? Young minds are amazing what they pick up about our culture. Amazing.

I finally got out of the truck and went a little closer to examine the statue. It's a statue of a small plane pilot wearing an aviator hat and jacket with a two blade propeller balanced on his shoulder. Of course! Alaska--Airport--Aviator! Duh. (And, yes, it could be argued that small plane propellers have killed a number of people.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

November has been take care of great-grandma month, so we didn't do much in the way of decorating for Thanksgiving. Bentley was disappointed in us. Last night he told me we have to get the house decorated because tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I asked him what decorations he thought we should put up. He said stickers and that we should go the store and buy some decorations.

Here's the Thanksgiving craft that Kara did with the children (Viva's (top), Bentley's (middle), Jake's (bottom)):

I've promised Bentley that we will start right away with the Christmas decorations. We have lots and lots and lots of those.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back in the Pool

On Wednesdays in November we took the kidlets for a second round of preswim lessons at the YMCA. Like in September, Kara only signed the trio up for one lesson per week. Bentley is making good progress. He works hard and does what the teacher asks. He's getting more comfortable in the water. The vacation in Mexico last month really helped improve his water skills.

Jake and Viva...well they aren't making much progress. Like Bentley they loved the pools in Mexico, but if the water was deep, they clung tightly to mom, dad, Grandpa Tim or Grandma Karen. Week two of preswim lessons the instructor told me that she thought that Viva was holding Jake back because he was taking his cue (i.e. fear of the water) from Viva. During weeks three and four Viva was the braver one, but truthfully there was little to no overall progress made from week one to week four. VivaJake's favorite part of preswim lessons is the warm shower afterwards. The twins will be taking a break from preswim lessons while we wait for them to mature.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mom Made

Kara made this dress for Viva over two years ago. As with many sewing patterns, the size ran large. It finally fits her. Viva likes this dress because the overskirt is sparkly.

Bentley gave this dress high compliments, too. I can't remember his exact words (beautiful? gorgeous?), but what stood out is that he only said good things about it. He was quite emphatic about liking it. Usually he says one or two nice things about a clothing item, but then he then ends with a slap back. "I like the butterfly on your shirt, Viva, but I don't like the red color." B only said nice things about the dress. He must have known it was a special dress.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


In our home we're calling these stickers, but others might refer to them as temporary tattoos. Stickers sounds nicer since tattoos are...hmm, do any of our readers have permanent tattoos? Perhaps I should just skip right to the photo:

I'm sure you can tell whose hands is whose from the choice of sticker. Jake likes his sticker to be very temporary. The first one I put on, he asked to have removed just a few minutes later. The next couple he kept on for a few hours. Viva had hers for a few days. Bentley had his for six! He had one on each hand. Different strokes for different folks.

Cousin Ruth: A Delight!

One more Ruth picture!  The kids were QUITE enamored of Ruth's visit.  In addition to being a great helper for Great-Grandma, cousin Ruth is good at hide and seek and board games.  

Plus she brought water taffy.

We hope she comes back soon.  :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Spy...

A kitten (who thinks he is smaller than he is?!!) in a sock basket in the corner of the kids closet.

Cats like places to sleep where they feel like their backs and sides are "protected".  I guess this basket fit the bill perfectly - even if it is a bit of a snug fit!  This is where Rameses's heads when he decides to join us for reading time, or hang out during laundry folding time in the kidlet room.

It disturbs Bentley a bit (get off my socks, kitty!!!) - but the cat doesn't seem disturbed to be disturbing.  :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jake's Version of a Cat

Jake actually drew this BEFORE Rameses arrived at our home.  I know it requires a little squinting but I am impressed with his art.

Can you see the cat?

(Hint: It's with the brown marker.  The head is on the left hand side in about the middle of the page... the black bold scribbles are a "top layer", I think designed to distract from the cat.   But it didn't work, I saw through it to the cat he told me is there!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crazy, Busy Life

Life is always busy with three preschoolers. It's not hectic, but there is often someone who wants your attention. "Grandma, are you listening to me?!" Kara and I spend most of our day playing with, reading to, feeding, and helping the three little ones. They often enjoy activities on their own, but we have to be near at hand to keep things in order if needed.

Lately life in our household has been even busier than usual because great-grandma had her left knee rebuilt on November 4th. She had this operation on her right knee last year. Usually great-grandma needs no help, so it's a big change for our household when we have to fit in invalid care along with child care. Having learned from last year's post-op experience we imported help from the start. (Last year we waited until we were snowed under and then begged my sister Jean to come help out.)

We found expert help for right after the surgery.

We asked Ruth (Kara's cousin and great-grandma's grand-daughter) to fly in from Boston to help great-grandma. Ruth is a nurse. We were very lucky to have her with us because this year's knee surgery had some problems. One week after surgery great-grandma was back in the operating room because her stitches ripped open. While sewing them back up the surgeon discovered her tendon had snapped in two. Not, not, not good. Great-grandma now has to keep her knee immobilized for six weeks which is not the typical goal for a new knee.

Ruth has been doing the bulk of the nursing work and decision making for us--thank you, thank you, thank you Ruth--but there is still a lot of extra work for us, too. Kara has been taking Ruth to the hospital and hanging out with her for a few hours. I've been picking up all the slack at home. The children are getting a little ornery, as are we! Sleep is short. Stress is high. ("What if...?" "How will great-grandma...?")

Needless to say, the blog has been neglected and probably will continue to be neglected for the next month or more while we scramble to help great-grandma and to keep the children happy and to prepare for the Christmas holiday season. (Forget Thanksgiving--I'm not planning anything special. I'm more concerned about how we're going to get great-grandma to the doctor's next Wednesday while keeping her leg straight.)

P.S. Ruth is not our only visitor. Cousin John from Juneau came to visit, too. He just returned from a two year LDS mission and he wanted to visit his grandmother before he heads off to college in January. When his ticket was purchased three weeks ago post-surgery seemed like a good time for a visit. Grandma would need entertainment while she was working out her new knee. Unfortunately she spent most of his visit in the hospital because of her second, emergency surgery. John was a good sport and spent some time with her there.

Monday, November 15, 2010

1000th Post!

Here it is our 1000th post--or so our internal counter tells us. If we back date a post sometime in the future (like maybe a post on the trip to Mexico!?), the counter and the post will no longer match. It's not a perfect system or a perfect world. However, we do have perfect children!

If we had more time we could calculate the stats on how many posts featured Bentley (he's oldest, so it should be the highest number), how many featured Jake, how many featured Viva, how many featured Jake & Viva, how many featured all three, how many post were off topic (not about the children--very few of those--is this one of them?), how many posts included photos, how many posts were 100 words or less. We could give you an endless stream of vital stats. We won't. We have more important things to do like build train layouts with the boys or track down Viva or how about write a new post?!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Hellion

I bet you all wondering which of my three adorable grandchildren I am labeling hellion. Truth to tell, they all have their moments of loud, boisterous, unrestrained behavior. Even Viva, although her rebellions tend to be quiet. She likes to glare rather than slam doors and throw objects. Bentley and Jake can put a on good show if they are riled enough by a sibling or an authority figure. However, the hellion I wanted to discuss today is the new kitty Rameses.

He went on a rampage Tuesday morning. First he knocked a ceramic pumpkin off the window sill, shattering it. The children ran over to investigate and while I tried to get them away from the sharp shards, Rameses was busy batting the broken pieces around.

Next Rameses went into the formal dining room (AKA children's library nook) and checked out the plants there. He tried to take a bite out of my emerging narcissus leaves. I nabbed him and told him a firm "No!".

He then sauntered over to the largest plant pot in the house and took a little rest in it. Needless to say he covered himself in loose dirt. Again I said "No!".

He visited the narcissus pot again.

Since the ceramic pumpkins were in danger, I removed them all from the window sill and took them downstairs to put away with the Halloween decorations. Rameses followed me downstairs. I ignored him and went back up.

BIG MISTAKE. He took out a dracaena plant before coming back upstairs. Mark found the mess when he went downstairs at lunch time. I had to haul out the vacuum and clean up the mess. The plant survived.

I haven't lived with a kitten for 14 years. I remembered how much fun they were. I forgot how much work they are. Kittens are easily litter trained and you can leave a bowl of food out for them 24-7 so there's no worry about not being there for them at meal time. They don't need to be taken on daily walks. They are low maintenance in all of those ways. However, they sure can get into a lot of trouble. Even a very young kitty can get up on counters, tables, window sills, desk tops, dresser tops, etc. Nothing is safe.

He doesn't look like a hellion, but don't be fooled. He can be one. Fortunately, he can also be a good kitty.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nap Time at our House

Nap time... unfortunately, it comes to an end. I love the idea of a daily "breather" in the middle of the day. But those darn kids keep getting bigger!

Bentley rarely naps. I suppose as he is almost five I can live with that. He lays down and "tries" to nap for a little bit, but he rarely gives into that type of trickery!

Viva naps about half the time. Her idea of a perfect nap time involves lots of books to look at quietly. She doesn't sleep all the time but she's good about the idea of nap time.

Jake, my precious child, is a great napper. And he needs his nap still. He sleeps for 2 hours every day, and would be happy to sleep for longer. Waking him up is tricky business. He doesn't wake up happy (he got that from his father).

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Rameses: A Good Kitten!

Our kitten is starting to like our kids.  That's a good thing!  During the day he'll come out to sit next to them while they play, and on brave days he even climbs right up on their laps.  

The other day he climbed on Jake's blanket; Jake shrieked and ripped it out from under him.

Bentley thought this was mean, so he offered to share HIS favorite blanket with Rameses.  What a sweet kid.  And the smart cat took him up on the offer.

Viva is now showing up in my bedroom EVERY night (she used to sleep in her room 90% of the time!), because she knows that's where she'll find her new friend the cat.  She climbs up into the bed, the kitten clambers on over to her and starts to purr, and then she proceeds to squish the air out of him.  It's a relationship that seems to be working for both of them although it puzzles me a bit!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Snow Fun

Snow was a little slow coming this year to Anchorage. On Halloween we only had a sprinkling on the ground. Then it started snowing. And thawing. And snowing. And freezing. And snowing. We now have a beautiful white winter wonderland...that's a little deadly. There is a layer of fluffy white snow over a layer of sheer ice.

The neighbor who plows our driveway for us slid on the ice in his truck and bumped into our perennial bed's retaining wall. (I easily fixed the damage.) Then he went back home and slid into his retaining wall. Not good driving conditions. Not even good walking conditions. I know because I took the kidlets out for a short walk to see the tree that had fallen across the street that leads to our cul-de-sac.

First, of course, we had to properly dress for our little adventure. Bentley got on his snow pants, hat, coat, and boots without any help! Now to get Viva and Jake trained likewise. (Maybe I could bribe B with a monster truck if he can teach them how to do it?) First I had to convince the trio to use the bathroom. Meanwhile I tracked down all the snow gear. Then I had to get Viva to change from a dress into a pants and to put on socks. Then I had to help VivaJake put on their snow pants, hats, coats, boots--pulling the snow pants over the boots, and finally mittens--tucking them carefully into the coat sleeves.

Once outside the boys grabbed a snow shovel and started moving snow from one area to another. Viva claimed she could not hold a shovel with her mittens on. I'm not sure it was the mittens so much as the coat and snow pants which were voluminous. The girl looked like a huge pink marshmallow.

After letting the boys shovel for a while, I convinced them to walk down to see the tree. We slip-slided down the driveway with all the children falling at least twice. Fortunately they were well padded. While walking to the fallen tree, I showed the boys how to make a snow ball. The snow was perfect for nice snow balls. It would compact enough to hold together, but it wouldn't make an ice ball, so it didn't hurt when you got hit with it.

Well, it didn't physically hurt! It turns out it can be quite emotionally traumatic if your grandmother hits you with a snowball and it lands just below your chin and explodes upwards into your face with some of the snow escaping down the opening of your coat and sliding down your tummy.

I had to work really hard to come back from that mistake. B wanted to go inside IMMEDIATELY. He finally calmed down and we spent another hour outside throwing snowballs (not at each other!) and playing in the snow. Jake and Viva asked to make snow angels, so I helped them make a couple, but it's hard to see an imprint in dazzling white snow at mid-day. The children had great fun going down their slide. Snow pants are very slippery on a slide.

I was the one who called a halt to the fun. We wouldn't want to miss nap time!!!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Awesome Artwork

Our young artists have been hard at work lately producing yet more masterpieces. A couple of these are so good that multiple claimants have put dibs on the artwork. Back to the art room kidlets!

The first two are Bentley's work. He named the first one "Red Dog with Hat Swimming in the Ocean". The second one is simply titled "Ocean". Jake's is the third artwork and Viva's is the fourth. The twins have swapped styles. Viva has gone minimalist and Jake is putting a lot of time and effort into his art lately. It's good that they don't let themselves get pigeonholed into a particular style. The fifth artwork is Viva's paper towel for cleaning her brush.

Last, but certainly not least, is a paper sculpture that Bentley created a couple of months ago. We took photos at the time, but no one put it on the blog. It is certainly blog worthy. I was the assistant on the piece because Bentley had a hard time wielding the stapler. It was rather awkward even for me and I'm a long time crafter. B laid out the pieces of paper and then closely supervised me. On day one the paper sculpture was smaller and he told me it was a Frog. Then the next day he put me back to work using up the rest of the blue and yellow half sheets (from the scrap box--notice the holes?). He then renamed his critter Crocodile. I pinned it up on in the hallway. I told his mom that if my quilts can go on the hallway walls, B's Crocodile can also go there.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Speaking of Cats... !

For some very sad reason this photo is not on my blog yet.  Here's Bentley, at age 3 weeks, with Pharaoh.  I know I'm biased, but aren't they incredibly cute?  :-)

  Pharaoh was a good sized cat, 18 lbs!  He was a GREAT cat, and we miss him.  

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Meet Rameses

This past weekend I was pondering Christmas and kittens, and decided to start my google hunt for a traditional style Siamese. I've checked sites on and off over the years and never found much, so imagine my surprise when I found an online classified ad for Alaska with adorable Siamese kittens.

The catch? The ad was dated Oct 1, and I figured the kittens were all gone. Nonetheless I emailed, hoping to find out info about when a new litter of kittens might be available. Instead i was given the information that one kitten was left - the runt!

I bounced up and down, rounded the children and Grandma up, and headed out to Wasilla ASAP.

And now Rameses is part of our family. I couldn't be more thrilled. The kids are enthralled. Matt denies he is a cat person, but cats know better. My parents and Great-Grandma are entertained. Nefertiti - verdict still out.

It's all good.

Rameses was born June 7th. We were told he was the runt, and looked small for his age, so were a bit surprised at his size! He's 6 lbs 8 oz already. A *giant* of a kitten!

He is very playful. He is sociable. He has a little tiny meow and a big purr. He listens well. He is a bit scared of the three toddlers. They hunt him down as a group and shriek over who gets to throw the ball. They shine the flashlight under the bed and tell him to come back out!   He is still getting used to the house, it's a big house for a little kitten.  He attacks pencils, toes, hair, and cords.  He's a riot and we're really enjoying getting to know him.

Next up?  Maybe the kids holding the kitten?!  Rameses might be scared of them but I think they're not ENTIRELY sure about how to approach him yet either.  We're only one day three, however, so we have time!

P.S. - why Rameses?  We like the Egyptian names, so it goes with Pharaoh (my kitty when I was young!) and Nefertiti (who's still "hanging in" there but old and not too healthy/playful anymore).

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Sudoku Time

It's sudoku time!  I have resisted the urge to learn how to do sudoku puzzles for years now, knowing that I might find them slightly addictive.  Some long plane trips (Mexico!) and some free time in Mexico provided me with the urge to finally try them out.

So now we're back home, and sometimes Grandma, my Mother, and I all work on the newspaper's daily sudoku in the evening.  I am ashamed to admit how long they take me sometimes... I'll get better at them, right?! :-)

Tonight Viva sat down at the table and wanted to help Grandma add some numbers to the sudoku puzzle.  Grandma, understandably, was not a HUGE fan of the idea.  So Viva got some paper and a pen and pulled up a chair to do her own sudoku.  Viva asked Great-Grandma to help her draw a grid but apparently Great-Grandma's effort wasn't up to snuff.

So Viva turned the paper over and drew her own sudoku grid.  I think it looks pretty darn good!  

Now she just needs to work on the numbers part...

Sibling Play Time

How lovely it must be to have built in play mates, who are always there to play with you and keep you company.  Viva doesn't even love trains, but on occasion she likes to get into the middle of what her brothers are doing and be with them.  

At least... I imagine it must be lovely.  Not having had siblings inflicted on me.  :-)  (Joking!  Mostly...).