Monday, January 31, 2011


Bentley was born five years ago today. It's been a fantastic five years. I enjoyed bonding with him when he was an infant. He was a delightful toddler. As a preschooler he has been bright and eager. I always enjoy the time I spend with my grandson. He's fun to hang with.

He is happy when he wakes up--eager to get started with the new day. He has a great smile. He's quite picky about what he eats and what he wears (jeans only and no button shirts). He likes to know his schedule, especially what time he can get up from his afternoon rest period.

B is not a big cuddler, but he likes to be near others. He's not one to go off and hang out alone in another room. He needs the security of an adult close by, but once he feels secure, he's quite independent.

He has lots of activities that he enjoys pursuing on his own (puzzles, blocks, Duplos, drawing), but he also likes to play with his siblings (swords, running, hide & seek, building forts). He is usually a good big brother, but he sometimes teases too much. (Jake is an easy target.)

Bentley has activities he shares with his dad (Wii, Legos, videos) and activities he does with his great-grandma (games mostly!). His opa helps him figure out new iPad aps and takes lots of photos of him for us to use in this blog. His mom will be writing her own birthday boy post, so she can share what activities she enjoys doing with B.

He and I had a routine of playing at least one game every afternoon before nap time, but we haven't done so the past month or more. I miss that time with him. I'll have to lure him back with a new game. He's a good game partner.

B likes to use my iPad. He's very clever and can beat me on some of the game aps. I need to sharpen my skills! Maybe take lessons from him. He teaches Jake how to do the games he's mastered.

He's good with numbers and can count and write to at least 240 as I wrote about in a recent post. He does simple adding and subtracting in his head. He knows his letters, but isn't yet interested in reading. He's very good with opposites. He likes to do mazes.

Bentley is a good artist. He does a great job drawing intricate pictures which he will then tell a story about. He likes to use pencil, crayon, and watercolor. He is generous with his artwork; he even asks his mom to mail some of it to Grandma Vicki and urompa.

Spending time with Bentley is one of the greatest blessings in my life.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Two Things about Viva

I wanted to share two things about Viva. First off, she is hard to trick. Recently she asked me if she could have her chap stick. I responded "Are you a fairy or a princess today?" She was wearing her new purple dress (see photo) and I thought she looked like a fairy, but I figured that she'd answer princess because that's how she usually labels herself. Well, she wasn't sure what answer I wanted, so she very cleverly hedged her bet with "Whichever one wears chap stick!" I was outsmarted by a three year old.

She is also rather adventurous. Lately she has made multiple claims that "I eat bugs!". When queried about when and where, she told us "In Mexico". Great-grandma asked her if it was at a restaurant. Viva gave her an odd look and said "No, outdoors." I asked her if the bug was crunchy, she said yes. I asked if was juicy, again yes. Perhaps the girl really did eat a bug.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bentley, Number Cruncher

Bentley's newest interest is writing number charts. He takes a piece of paper and writes all the numbers from one to over one hundred. He gave his first number chart to Grandma Karen, who I am sure appreciated it properly because she is an accountant and (surely!) loves numbers.

The second chart he numbered all the way to 240. He says he is going to use it for a hide and seek chart. Every time he plays hide and seek he will mark off one number. Okay...I'm not sure I want to know how many times I've played hide and seek.

Bentley showed the number chart off to his home teachers. One quickly caught the awesome vision of the charts and made the appropriate comments. The other man looked at the chart and pointed out that some of the numbers were backwards. Well, duh! The child isn't even five yet (three more days to go). We certainly aren't going to kill his enthusiasm by insisting on perfect numbers every time. He'll get there. (We have gently brought the topic up.) Also, he wrote all the numbers is correct sequential order, but not always in a straight row. If there was a little space above a row, he filled it in with whatever number he was on. I tried to steer him away from doing it. "Are you sure you should put the numbers there?" "Oh, yes", he told me "It's like that up there." and he pointed up a few rows where he'd successfully filled in a blank area. "Oh" I replied, "You're right!"

It took him hours to make his charts. He started on the second one at noon, took a break for a short nap, then headed back to working on it. He told his dad that he had been working longer than his dad had. Not quite true, but he had been working for hours. B has great focus. Fantastic job!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Did You Do Today?

The menfolk come home from work and ask us "What did you do today?". We keep pretty busy even if the list of our daily accomplishments might not seem that impressive to others.

We start the day by getting three young ones dressed and fed. At three years old and almost five, they can dress themselves, but only if they want to. It's definitely more work to keep Jake on task dressing himself, than it is for us to dress him. Unfortunately, in the interests of fostering greater future independence (for him and us!), we encourage him to do it himself. Some days it takes him a half hour and multiple reminders.

After the tribe is dressed, it's time to feed them. Sometimes it's a quick process--three bowls of cornflakes, one without milk (for B boy). Other days it's a lengthy process--a pretzel with cheese for Bentley, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Jake, and some of what everyone else (including great-grandma) is eating for Viva. Once a week we'll make them pancakes or waffles.

Once the kidlets are fed it's open season on the toys and games and books. Lately they've been playing a lot of hide and seek. They can all count quite well to 20. They do a good job of playing the game without any adult help. Of course, they also like us to play with them, so sometimes we do.

Mornings are fun, if a little noisy at times. Since it's winter and lately very cold outside, we don't get much outdoor time. We let them race around inside. And jump on their mini-trampoline. And fight with the swords.

Sometimes we read books to the kids--great-grandma gets recruited for this job, too. She also plays games with them. Our most recent photo shows Kara reading to the munchkins. The cat likes storybooks, too!

The art supplies come out daily. Jake and Bentley love to draw. Viva does a little drawing, but not as much as the boys. All three like to paint. They are always eager to do a new craft project.

Some days we do puzzles. The children play on the iPads. They watch a little TV--approved educational programs only for short periods of time. They help put away their laundry and clean up toys and shelve books and make cookies.

Once or twice a week the children have a play date with other children. It's nice for them to have their friends over, but they aren't always appreciative of the honor. Go figure!

About once a week we all venture out of the house for a shopping trip. It's hard to accomplish a lot when you have three preschoolers to get in and out of car seats and to keep track of in the store. If we don't try to do too much, everything goes well.

Did I mention time outs? No day is complete without a few time outs. Currently all three are about equal in earning time outs. Bentley gets sent for teasing or hitting Jake. Jake gets sent for being out of control (beating on his mother). Viva gets sent for being rebellious (not doing what's she asked).

And they take naps! How could I have forgotten us caregivers' favorite time of day?! Although we love being with the children, they can be exhausting and a mid-day break is welcome. It's a time for the children to recharge and for us to recharge, too.

Occasionally we go on a field trip, but we haven't done many this winter. Colds, Christmas, and great-grandma's surgeries have kept us close to home. That will change as the weather warms and cabin fever sets in. Or maybe we don't go out much because we have so much at home? We have a cornucopia of toys, games, puzzles, books, art supplies, iPads--and caregivers!

We keep busy.

It's important work.

You could not purchase the quality of service we give or the rewards we receive.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bentley's Quirky Eating: A Random Update

Bentley, in the past few weeks, has discovered 2 EXCITING new foods!  He finally tried a mandarin orange (which his siblings have been eating for years!), and said "wow!  this is good!  what is it called?!"... which just serves as a reminder to me that you can lead a horse to water but until he wants to drink.... !

Then, earlier this week, he came downstairs and asked for a bagel with BUTTER.  Exciting, yes  Almost double the calories if you get enough butter on that bagel!  For years I've been asking him if he'd like butter (or cream cheese, for that matter) with his bagel.  He always says no and eats them plain.  Plain bagels, with nothing on them.  So imagine my excitement at this new development.  :-)

In the past year we've also added apples with peanut butter to the list of acceptable foods.  Bentley tells me his very favorite fruit is strawberries.  Which is probably because they're out of season right now

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to Carry a Big Cat

(and no, he's not really THAT big yet - 9 lbs - but he is big compared to the small children around here!!!)

Rameses is a good kid cat.  He gives the kids equal time at night which I think is nice - he doesn't play favorites and gives them all a chance to bond with him.  :-)  Some nights he sleeps with Bentley.  Some nights we find him with Viva.  And some times I even find him braving Jake's bed.  Smart?  Maybe not.  But sweet?  Definitely.  He's a keeper!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Alaskan Fun: Ice Sculptures

So we packed up the kids and took them downtown to check out some good Alaskan entertainment - ice sculptures!  They seemed to enjoy sliding around on the ice "rink" just as much as looking at the ice, but it's all good - they posed nicely, we had fun, no one cried = a successful family outing.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Opa's Birthday (50th!!)

Opa had a birthday last Sunday.  Happy Birthday, Opa!  He looks 40, right?!  It was a big birthday for him!!  The kids (Bentley in particular) were quite excited about the birthday.  They made sure we had balloons and decorations.  Bentley made sure we had plenty of presents, he knows how birthdays work now.  :-)

We had Opa's traditional birthday dinner - rouladen, dumplings, and red cabbage.  Yum!  Grandma had to work hard to make it but we're glade she did.

And, of course, we had cake!  A marbled chocolate bundt cake.  Jake helped cut the cake, and Bentley tells me he wants the same cake for his birthday.  So I guess that means the cake was a hit!

Happy Birthday, Opa!  We're glad we could celebrate with you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Newspaper Duty

If you've been to our house you know we have an obscenely long driveway.  That's nice in the summer for bike riding, and provides lots of black top for chalk art or bowling.  It isn't so nice for quickly grabbing the newspaper that's at the end of the driveway (or for shoveling or watering the 100 bushes along the driveway for that matter!).

This picture is a little deceptive, as the children don't normally get the newspaper.  Normally it waits until someone goes out for the day and then returns home and grabs it (Opa at lunch time most often!).  But, the picture was cute.  So here it is.  Isn't he a cute helper?

Just part of the service that can come with the territory when you're a newspaper reading Great-Grandma around here!  She's lucky, eh?!  :)

Who Naps Like This?!

It's a little precarious looking, right?!  This is Bentley, actually napping during nap time.  He had a sweater on so must have decided he was too hot to crawl into his fort.

How does nap time work around here?  Some days it goes better than other days!

Jake naps.  Jake likes to nap!  He takes a nap in my bed.  He naps for hours.  He's unhappy when he wakes up, because he likes to sleep so much.   If he has to get up too early in the day he informs us that "he will need a nap" soon.  Sensible kid.

Viva hangs out in her room.  She sleeps about 50% off the time, and the other half of the time finds her reading books in the dark.  Sometimes she gets bold and opens the curtain or turns on the light for a better quiet time experience.  She doesn't nap as well because she sleeps in later than her brothers.  My kind of girl.

And Bentley?  He naps maybe 20% of the time.  He normally spends rest time in his fort, which used to be a couch in Grandma's room.  But with the collection of pillows and blankets on it (which are not to be disturbed!) it is now Bentley's sanctuary.  And the cat's.  The cat and Bentley hang out together at nap time.  They normally *try* to rest - which most days doesn't involve trying TOO hard, and involves a bit of clock watching on Bentley's part until his prescribed prison sentence is over.  Unless the excitement of the day overwhelms him and he accidentally closes his eyes.  (This makes him grumpy!).

He is almost 5.  I'm thinking I'll have to accept the fact naps are a thing of the past, and officially let him do quiet time activities without even the pretense of pretending to nap.

Or do I have to?!

Just kidding.  I think!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Small Male Child Hair! Cut by ME!

About 3 years or so ago I checked out a book or two on haircutting from the library.  I googled it and watched some videos.  I'd been carefully observing the beautician when she cut Bentley's hair.

But somehow when we had him sitting there, and the scissors in hand, I just couldn't make it happen!  Little kids just have such cute little faces and it seems like a shame to ruin them with a butchered head of hair (or even worse no hair because you have to buzz it all off when the hair cut goes awry... LOL).

Fast forward a couple years.  I bought a set of clippers at Costco.  They've been sitting in the closet for close to a year now, and periodically I ask the boys if I can cut their hair.  They always say no.  Should I be offended?!

But I finally got lucky.  Jake told me he WANTED ME to cut his hair.  Sweet!  I figure Jake is the safer one to start my skills on, as his hair is finer and not quite as thick as Bentley's.

The verdict?  No bald spots.  It really wasn't as hard as I thought (as any of you who own clippers know!).  It could look a lot more polished, sure, but it was a good first step!  Proof below that he still has hair, and there is less of it than before.  Score one for Mommy.  :-)

The before:

And the after (ignore slightly glazed expression on child's face... he was distracted from the intense drawing session he was engaged in....):

P.S.: Jake and I used the $15 we saved on a haircut to buy a child size hair cape.  We have high hopes it will work better than the huge adult one we tried out this past time.  If he lets me cut his hair again, that is.  He says I was slow!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Santa Brought...

the trampoline!

He (or is it a she?!) didn't realize that the mini trampoline didn't come pre-assembled.  It said folding trampoline, so how was I to know?!  Apparently new fangled trampolines don't come with springs.  They come with bungees that you have to wind in and out of the netting and then somehow pull tight.

And it doesn't help when you realize 90% of the way through that you screwed up on step 2 and have to back track.  Ooops.

Santa's helper (Mr. Santa) was getting a bit grumpy, it was way past bed time!

But the gift was well received.  And the children have even more energy than I knew they did.  It's amazing in a scary and beautiful way.  :-)

A picture of the boys jumping was already posted, but here's one of my little girl jumping bean.

The trampoline is bringing out unknown energy from Genevieve.  I've always thought she just didn't have the same energy as the boys.  Now I find out she just doesn't choose to use it normally.  :-)  She could be as crazy as they are if she was so inclined!

My Dad Spends Months in Barrow, and...

I got this shirt...

So maybe you can't read it, but it says Top of the World.  Barrow, Alaska.  And it has a picture of a Polar Bear.  Matt claims Viva is the only one with a shirt because the small size only comes in pink.  We'll have to take his word for it since I don't plan to head up to the Top of the World hotel any time soon!

December was a lovely month for us.  Matt was in Barrow Nov 30th - Dec 2nd, but then he didn't head back up until Jan 3rd.  A whole straight month of Daddy?  Combine that with the fact that Matt's company gives them the last week of the year off from work as vacation time and I had some children that almost suffered from Daddy overload shock (in a good way!).  It was nice to have Matt around nonstop without the travel interruptions for this past month.  New year, and back to business.  We do appreciate how hard he works so the kids and I can enjoy our days filled with toys and play together.

Thanks, Daddy!  :-)

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Beautiful Castle

Bentley created this beautiful block building structure all by himself the other day.  Perhaps he'll be an architect?  It's lovely!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Big Kitty

Viewing the above two photos, who would you guess is nicer to Rameses? Which boy is gentle and caring and which one kicks the cat? It's a good thing the kitty is getting bigger and bigger because he needs every advantage he can attain in a home with twin three and half year olds.

I'm happy to report that Rameses continues to be a good, mellow pet despite the often unkind treatment that the VivaJake pair gives him. Sure the kids have acquired a few scratches, but not nearly as many as they deserve. Viva doesn't kick the kitty like Jake does, but she closed the door on him the other day and she ripped one of his claws out last month when he caught it on a ribbon.

Bentley was a little slower than the twins to befriend the new kitty, but when he did, he was wonderful. He's nice to him and often helps him escape the twins' abuses. The cat in return has made Bentley his favorite child. He shares Bentley's pillow at night and he naps with him during the day. Kindness pays!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Big Box

For Christmas I got a new dishwasher from my housemates. I've hated the one that came with house from almost day one. It did a really lousy job cleaning the dishes and the rack layout was poor, too. So I'm very happy with the new dishwasher and the kidlets are thrilled to have a large box to play with.

I can understand Jake and Viva who were wombmates for almost eight months enjoying the squished quarters (a walk down memory lane), but I was surprised Bentley enjoyed squeezing in with them. Rameses had no choice, but he was a good sport about it and didn't claw his way out.

That foot in the middle, it belongs to Bentley. Come to think of it, so does the bare foot. B put both of his socks on one foot this morning when he was dressing and he was so amused by this action that he wanted to keep it that way until his dad came home so he could show him his new sock style.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Big Tub

The kids haven't used the big Jacuzzi tub in our bathroom for quite some time, so last week I decided to clean it out because the pipes fill with brownish water when it isn't used regularly. I filled the tub with warm water and added some Cascade dishwashing detergent to help clean out the jet pipes. After emptying the tub I filled it with cold water to rinse out the Cascade. Viva wandered in and said she wanted to take a bath. I told her she was welcome to climb in, but it was awfully cold. She stripped down and then changed her mind after dipping just one foot in. She wanted warm water. Picky! Picky! I told her if she walked across the tub of cold water, I'd drain it and fill it with warm water. She looked dubious, but decided the prize was worth the effort. She waded across and back and demanded her prize.

I drained the tub and started filling it with warm water. She climbed in. Jake soon joined her and then Bentley climbed in, too. Usually they take baths near bedtime so the time allowed in the bath tub is limited, but it was late afternoon when this bath took place and they stayed in the tub for an hour playing and splashing and then I turned the jets on and they played for another half hour.

It's good to change up your routines.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Down Come the Decorations

I'm back dating this post because this photo is just too lovely to toss away into Mark's ginormous file of unposted photos. These particular Christmas craft decorations where among the last Christmas decorations to come down--which might be because they were the last to go up! They really stuck to the windows, so I'm not sure I’ll put them there again, but they did look mighty fine, so perhaps I will.

Viva and Bentley made the stained glass look Nativity scenes. Jake wasn't interested in crafting that day.


Friday, January 07, 2011

Dear Ruth,

It was a sad day yesterday at our place.  The last of the water taffy is gone.  Viva & Jake want to know when you're coming back, and if you could please bring more with you when you do.  No other taffy but yours will do.  Perhaps it's the combination of you AND the taffy that sounds perfect?  :-)

So please book that ticket ASAP.


VIVA & Jake

(Viva being in capitals because she REALLY really loves the water taffy).

Monday, January 03, 2011

More Church "News"

It's the new year, which means the kids all move into new groups in church!

Jake has been our problem child in regards to Nursery.  He's just not a big fan of the place.  18 kids, all under 3... I admit I find it a bit scary myself!  I couldn't completely blame him for nerves about being left there.

Luckily for Jake (& Viva) they have now graduated to Sunbeams!  They are officially a part of Primary where all the 3 to 12 years go.  They did a stellar job with their new class today.  Viva ran down the hall on her own, being too cool to be accompanied by a parent.  Jake did need to be walked into the room, but then he agreed to stay with good grace.

At the end of church Jake asked me if the same people will be in Sunbeams every week.  When I answered yes, he informed me that he will be able to attend every week.

I'm happy to hear it.  :-)

Viva?  Viva had a great time.  She is enthusiastic and easy going!  She is quite enamored of the music leader in Primary.  I think she will have a blast with this new year!  There are 4 other little girls in the Sunbeams class and Jake is the only little boy.

Bentley has moved up to CTR-4, he is with the same group of kids he was with last year.  He still has a special place in his heart for a certain little girl with dark curls that he makes a point of sitting next to every week.  I was quizzing him after church, however, and he does know the names of all 8 kids in his class.  So maybe he pays more attention to them than he likes to let on?  For an almost 5 year old, he already acts a lot like a teenager who thinks it's not cool to show TOO much enthusiasm about anything!

Bentley the Shy One

Bentley, it turns out, is a bit on the shy aside.  At least when it comes to church and large groups!

I have no idea where he gets this from.  Perhaps it is his Mother who didn't exactly adore being in front of groups until she was a teenager.  I hear tales I was the only 5 year old with my back to the audience for the entire Kindergarten show performance. I turned out okay though.  I think!

Every Sunday morning one of the Primary kids (the 3-12 group at church) stands up at the front of the church before the meeting beings as the Reverence Child.  They even get to wear an official classy Reverence Child banner.  :-)  A month or so ago Bentley was asked to be the Reverence Child.  We talked it up all week.  He seemed game to at least give it a try.

And, to give him credit, he did go up to the front.  He started out facing forward with his arms folded and a bit of a frown on his face.  Then he started turning sideways and slouching down a bit behind the railing so our little guy was disappearing.  Then... then it got closer to 9 am and too many people were suddenly there.  He lost all composure and starting sobbing.  :-)  Another little boy took his place and finished out the job!  Ah well... first time nerves, right?!

Last week Bentley was asked to give a talk in Primary about "I know that my Redeemer Lives".  He seemed excited when he brought the note about the talk home, turns out the excitement was about getting the mail from the official Primary mail box.  Not so much about any concept of what the note said.  Matt and I asked for his help writing the talk.  He threatened to say only naughty things if he had to speak!  We kept up working with him.  I asked him how he knows that God lives.  He came up with one gem:

"Because he helps the plants grow".

We worked it into the talk.  Some of his other thoughts just couldn't be worked in... :-)

How did the talk go?

Well, he went to the front of the room with his Dad.  And Matt gave a very nice talk on how he knows his Redeemer lives.  Our Bentley started out facing forward but by the end of the traumatic experience had his face buried in his Dad's shirt.

Next time, next time.  It will get easier, little guy!

Matt's Christmas Break

The kids made up a list of activities to occupy their father during his week off after Christmas - I think he accomplished most of them!  (I love the drawings Bentley added to the list!).