Saturday, April 30, 2011

Good-bye April!

Another month is gone, gone, gone. It's been a good month. We've read many, many books to the children. We've played games with them. We've spent time outdoors playing basketball, badminton, soccer and biking. Or in Viva's case, climbing the shrinking hill of snow created by the snowplow. Hooray for spring!

The children have entertained themselves with drawing, cutting, iPad apps, puzzles, trains, and the marble run. The kidlets retrieved the marble run from the downstairs toy storage closet and set it up themselves. They've been having a great time with it and the cat loves it. He lays on the toy table and rolls the marbles around.

The children have had adventures this month: visits to the school playground, the bouncy house (daddy's lunch hour!), the ballet (Jake and mommy), the zoo, the library, the native Olympic games (daddy and the boys), and a blue grass festival (small!).

The children have spent time with Grandma Karen. They watched the season premiere of Dr. Who with opa. Mommy had a birthday. Grandma Vicki sent an Easter package. The Easter Bunny visited. Daddy's been home. Daddy's been gone.

With three preschoolers there's never a dull moment. Even rest time isn't dull because we're too aware that the clock is ticking down and the pace will soon, very soon, pick up again.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Perplexus Ball

Cousin Anna and her little trio gave Bentley the Perplexus ball for his birthday. It's been three months now and he still spends time trying to master all 99 steps to the finish line. Some are easy. Some are not. Many are frustrating. You have to have a very steady hand to guide the ball through some sections. Jake has started to play with the ball. Rameses also likes the ball. Any time he can get his paws on it, he rolls it around.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Zoo

Mark took Monday afternoon off from work, so we decided to take the grandchildren to the zoo. Kara purchases annual zoo passes, but the children hadn't been for a few months. The dead of winter isn't that exciting at the zoo. We arrived at the zoo at 2PM which turned out to be a great time for two reasons. First, the school field trips are over and second, most of the animals were active.

The children gave us the grand tour. The boys picked the route and we made it by all the enclosures, I think. We started with the seals and otter. Then we headed over to the polar bears. The polar bears were towards the very front of their enclosure which is unusual. The female was swimming and playing in the water. The male thought about going in, but then he opted for nap.

The black bears were in hiding, but the brown bears were out. One was napping, but the other one, a huge male with awesome claws, was checking out the addition being added to his area.

The wolverine was running around in circles. The foxes were up and moving. The moose were sleeping, but really we don't need to visit the zoo to see moose.

The tigers were sleeping as were the snow leopards. That's what you expect from large cats. The lynx were prowling their cage. The birds, even the owls, were awake. We saw the camel, the yaks, the llamas, the dall sheep, the reindeer, and the musk oxen. They were all eating. 2PM must be feeding time at the zoo. Good to know. Although it's not that entertaining watching animals eat hay. The on-the-move animals were more fun to watch.

The children enjoyed the visit and raced here and there. Other than the stench in certain areas of the zoo, it was good fun.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Viva: The Doer

Viva is Ms Independence. Her independent nature has lead her to be more capable than her brothers in a number of areas. She could put her socks all by herself long before the boys--even though she seldom wears socks so she had a lot less need to learn that skill. She could zip her coat before her brothers could zip theirs. She was much easier to potty train. Whereas we often have to coax the boys into trying new things or doing the basics for themselves, with Viva we are usually trying to hold her back. "No, Viva! Stop!"

Here are a few examples from last Wednesday of Viva's independent ways. In the morning Viva was changing out of her fancy dress to put on jeans and a shirt to go biking and rather than ask someone to unbutton the back of the dress, she shimmied out of it. I don't know how. The neckline wasn't very wide. I heard her upstairs screaming, but by the time I arrived she had quit screaming because she'd finished the job herself. I had to interrogate her to find out what the screaming was about. She had panicked when she got stuck half in and half out of the dress.

When we went outside to play the boys begged me to get the basket ball hoop out of the shed. The base needed to be filled with water because we drain it during the winter. We don't yet have a hose hooked up so I didn't fill the base. The wind blew the hoop over. Jake and Bentley immediately started hollering for me to come and fix the problem. Viva? She went over and pushed it upright herself.

A little later Bentley hit the badminton bird onto the roof. Solution? Yell for grandma. Viva climbed on the porch rail to see how close she could get to the roof. I had to tell her to get down.

Viva is a doer, not an asker. This is a good thing sometimes and other times not so good.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Photos

The twins dressed up for Easter Sunday--a new dress for Viva and Bentley's old suit for Jake, so we grabbed them for a photo session.

Jake was forced to wear the suit under protest while Bentley protested that he didn't have a suit to wear. He told his mom that if she would buy him a suit he'd wear it every Sunday. Really? Last time we put B in a suit, he was most unhappy. Will he really wear a suit if his mom buys him one?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Bunny

The children have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Easter Bunny. We get daily questions about when he will arrive. How big is he? Where does he live? Does he sleep at night? (Huh?)

Mommy told the kidlets that he'd come on Saturday because Sunday is a busy church day. They thought that was fine. Daddy's plane was delayed in Barrow Friday night, so he didn't arrive home until Saturday at 1:30 in the afternoon. The Easter Bunny hopped in for a visit shortly thereafter while daddy was upstairs entertaining the trio. E.B. left 74 eggs, 73 of which the children found. B found 27, V found 22, and J found 23. V and J got lots of help. B only received a little help at the end. (Later in the day he located the final missing egg. He's a clever and persistent child.)

Speaking of bunnies, Opa spotted a real bunny in our back yard this morning. He did not have a basket, so the children figured it wasn't the E.B.

Latest Rumor: I heard via the grapevine that the E.B. is making a short return visit tomorrow to leave baskets.

Easter Eggs

We dyed Easter Eggs Friday evening. First we did some tie-dye style eggs. You put an egg in a baggie and add a drop or two of food gel. The egg dyer then rolls the egg around in the bag putting dye on egg. More food gel is added and the process repeated until the entire egg is covered. The children liked this method. Jake lost one of his eggs when it rolled off the table. No biggie since we had boiled a lot of eggs.

Next we tried drawing on the egg with crayons and wax pencils before dipping the eggs in traditional dye baths. The crayon didn't show at all and the wax pencil (included in the egg kit) wasn't much better. Children are pretty forgiving about stuff like that. They don't know any better.

After the eggs were colored, the children put some stickers on them. Again the stickers were from an egg kit, but they sure didn't adhere well. Viva put all her stickers on one egg. Jake only used half his stickers. Bentley spread his out on a few eggs.

Next Viva wanted to try out glitter paint--again, one of those products included in the egg kit I purchased at the store. Again it was a bust. The glitter glue slid down the curved egg surface. Bentley was not forgiving of this problem. He was upset to see his artwork slide into a puddle. Kara gave him a paintbrush and he did his best to fix the mess.

The tie-dye eggs are in the back two rows, mostly in the corner. They were the prettiest!

Bunny Ears

We have a surfeit of bunny ears at our home. The children had headband style bunny ears from previous Easters, but this year Grandma Vicki sent them masks with bunny ears on them. The boys totally loved the masks. One night I found Bentley asleep in bed with his mask on.

The mask doesn't look comfortable to see out of, but the boys don't seem to have a problem with it. They wear them for hours. Viva has worn hers a little.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rat-a-Tat Cat

I mentioned last week that Bentley's new favorite game is Rat-a-Tat Cat. He plays it daily with as many adults as he can cajole into playing. Jake has started to like the game, too, and so asks to play with us. Sometimes he's my partner, sometimes he plays all on his own (he does a good job!), and in the video below he partnered with Bentley.

Here is a little background on the game so the video makes more sense. Each player gets four cards placed face down in front of them. At the start of the game you get to look at the outside two cards, but the inner two cards remain unknown. When it's your turn you can either take the top card from the discard pile or choose a new card. You can then swap that card with any of the four cards in front of you. When you swap out an unknown inner card you risk getting rid of a good card which your opponent will then scoop up.

The goal of the game is to get as low a score as possible. Cats have low scores (0-5) and rats have high scores (6-9). There are three specialty cards: draw two (instead of one card, you can draw two), peek (you can find out what your middle cards are!), and swap (you can swap one of your cards for one of your opponents).

At any time you can say "Rat-a-Tat Cat" and end the game. All other players get one more turn and then the hand is scored. I love to go down quickly. Bentley hates it when I do that. He likes to hold out for only 0s and 1s in his hand--often not swapping out high cards until he gets one of those two cards. He won't swap a 5 for 9 and then later swap the 5 for a lower card. He'll keep the 9 until he gets a 0 or 1. This means you can catch him with lots of high cards in his hand.

Enjoy Team Boys against Grandma.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rough Start

Most mornings at our household are acceptable. A few are good. Occasionally we have a great start to the day--which is remarkable given that there are three preschoolers and a night owl mommy in the household. Once in a while we have a very rough start to the day.

Like this morning. I was in my bedroom typing up a blog post. I could hear some minor dissension coming from the children's bedroom. They were getting dressed. I ignored the static. It continued. Then it radically escalated.

I, and soon after Kara, arrived in the bedroom to discover a half-dressed, crying five year old male, a naked three year old male, and a still-in-bed three year old female. According to the girl, the younger boy had pushed the older boy and he'd fallen and hit his head on the wood corner of her trundle bed. Ouch.

Why did the three year old male attack the five year old male?! Uh...because they are boys? I grew up with two brothers close in age and there was a lot of pushing and shoving and fighting. Not every minute of the day, but certainly most days involved a tussle or two. I think it's a sign of affection between brothers when they beat on each other.

In this particular case, there was a precipitating event. The older brother did something with the younger brother's underwear. The details were not clear from my investigation. The stories, something about a pair of Wally underwear, did not mesh. The bottom line is that the older brother was teasing the younger brother (again) and finally the younger brother reacted. Predictably. Violently.

Both boys got lectures. (Like that's going to change their future behavior.) No major damage was done to the five year old's skull. Incidentally, the three year old claims he did NOT push the five year old into the bed frame. (In his reality he might have pushed him, but falling on the corner of the bed frame wasn't connected. Can he be blamed if his brother is clumsy?)

Kara went back in to talk to the boys again because there was more static. She told Jake if he was going to be difficult today (he's been easily upset lately) that he could just stay in the craft room on his own all day. His response? "Oh no, don't you talk to me. I'll throw a book at you." It's going to be long day. I think I'll go buy some chocolate. And ear plugs. And shin guards. And a hair net. (Jake likes to smear his tears and snot on my face and in my hair. YUCK! It makes him giggle, but it makes me...wet, sticky, and snotty. Not my favorite experience.)


Last night Kara and I went out to dinner with some women from our ward. Since Matt is currently in Barrow that left Opa in charge of the kidlets. Well, two of them. Jake was with Grandma Karen and Grandpa Tim most of the evening. He returned home at bedtime. Opa says the children were well behaved. He even took a photo to prove it.

I'm impressed that he caught all three looking at the camera and smiling. (What bribe did he use? Chocolate? Extra bedtime stories?)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Playground

Matt has taken Viva to the playground a couple of times this spring already and maybe the boys, too? However, Monday evening was our first trip of the year with the grandchildren. They were very eager to go. We had to drag them away.

When we hit the playground Viva and Bentley raced for the swings. Jake was less enthused. He eventually agreed to swing, if I didn't push him too high.

Then they tried out the rest of the equipment.

We ended the trip with a final visit to the swings. Jake was much braver when Viva was onboard with him.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I (at the behest of the trio) dragged the bikes out from under the porch last week. I filled the tires with air and elevated the seats an inch or so. The kidlets were very excited to be able to go biking again. It was cold outside, but the thrill of the ride was worth the cold.

The first afternoon of biking led to some major crashes. Jake and Viva don't always steer well. One of them had forgotten how to brake. Crash! Bang! Ow! They survived. There have been fewer crashes this week.

Okay, so there's no bike in the above photo. The kid was biking (hence the bike helmet!), but then he decided to kick around the soccer ball instead. He's quite good.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Viva 3.0

What are Viva's favorite things?

* books, books, books!

* fancy dresses

* casual dresses

* bracelets, bows, boots

* ballet (she'd like to try it)

* long hair (she hates brushes)

* pink & purple

* princesses (she's one)

Viva is a girly girl. Her mama loves that about her.

Kara took the photo above, kept it on her camera for months, and finally back posted it. I’m reposting it so you all can enjoy it. Isn't she cute times 3.0?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Superboy or Karate Kid?

The Karate Kid


Friday, April 15, 2011

Puzzle Progress

My extra effort in working with Jake and Viva doing puzzles has already paid off! They are asking on their own to do 48 piece puzzles. They need a little help at the start sorting the pieces into border and center pieces and some encouragement to get the border put together and then they finish the puzzle off on their own. It's great that they like puzzles since we have enough to stock a day care center.

I purchased a new 100 piece puzzle featuring robots for the boys and all three kidlets helped put it together. Jake started the puzzle. He and I did the border. Then Viva asked to help. I left to do a chore and when I came back Viva had finished the large green robot on her own. Bentley asked to help and Jake wandered off. Bentley is quite fast at piecing puzzles, so the puzzle was quickly finished. Jake wants to do it again without his siblings.

The new puzzle was made by Crocodile Creek. It has extra large pieces which is nice for young children. It was slightly cheaper than a 100 piece Ravensburger puzzle, but not quite as nice because the puzzle pieces are a little harder to snap together, still it was a very nice puzzle. I'd purchase from this company again. Unfortunately they have a very small selection of puzzles unlike Ravensburger which has hundreds of quality puzzles for sale. Ravensburger is a German company that has been making games and jigsaw puzzles for over a hundred years.

Later that day Bentley and Matt started a 300 piece Disney Pinocchio puzzle that they bought in Las Vegas. Kara helped him finish it the next day. Jigsaw puzzles are a great, quiet activity for the entire family.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More about Viva

Last week I wrote about how Viva feels about boy activities: leave them to the boys. Today I thought I'd post on how Viva rates gender neutral activities.

Drawing: enjoyable, but not for hours like Jake and Bentley.

Painting: yes--it's fun to make a mess.

Crafting: a hands-on good time!

Shopping: leaving the house? For sure.

Hide 'N Seek: if you insist.

Card & Board Games: keep them short.

Story Time: yes! Yes!

Wii Time: yes, usually.

iPad Time: it's my turn now.

Biking: let's go.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dragon Tiles

For Christmas we gave Bentley the game Snap. The game has 36 interlocking tiles that snap together like jigsaw pieces. Each tile has part of a red dragon, part of a green dragon, and part of a yellow dragon on it. The part may be a head, a tail, or a middle section. (The dragons look more like fancy worms than dragons.)

The object of the game is to build single color dragons with at least one head and one tail on every dragon and no open ends. The longer the dragon, the more points you earn. There are three special tiger tiles. Lay down a tiger and you rescore any finished dragons the tiger tile borders. Build a new dragon that borders a tiger and you score double points.

The first game I played with Bentley was slow going. I played my tiles and his tiles. At the end of that game, I thought I'd be stashing the game away for a couple of years. However by game three Bentley was beating me without any help.

We've played quite a few games since Christmas. Bentley is usually the scorekeeper and he needs only a little assistance.

Recently Bentley asked opa to play with him. Bentley had taught opa the game a few weeks ago. I offered to play with Bentley instead and he rejected me. I pressed the issue. Bentley told me that I had lost the last seven games to him. Really?! Seven. I think not. Maybe four. Or five. Definitely not seven.

I was insulted so I suggested that we all play together. Bentley likes to follow the rules, so he questioned whether a three player game was kosher. I pulled out the instructions and looked it up. "2-4 players. Ages 10 and up."

"Did you hear that B?" I asked. "You're too young to play. You can't play again until you're 10 years old." I almost had the boy in tears before I relented.

Bentley is good at the game. He's competitive and feels no guilt at stealing my half finished dragons. I hate it when I start a dragon and he completes it. When he's busy stealing my dragons he's not creating his own dragons for me to steal. So annoying!

Also, Bentley is very lucky. He almost always draws at least two of the three tiger tiles. One game he had all three tigers after his second turn! (You draw three tiles to start and so always have three in your hand.) Three tigers was too many, even for Bentley, so of his own volition he threw one back in the draw pile. It's hard to build dragons when you don't have any dragon tiles.

Having been challenged by the five year old I was determined to win the game with Mark and Bentley. With a little luck and a tiger tile and some serious begging (please don't steal my dragon!), I won! Take that B boy! (He was a good sport about my win.)

Of course, it's taken me too long to get this posted and now Bentley has moved on to a new favorite game, Rat-A-Tat Cat. It's a card game that requires you to remember four face down cards while you swap them out in an attempt to get the lowest scoring hand. You can Rat-A-Tat Cat at any time and challenge the other players to show their cards and beat your score. Mostly we have fun with game, but once in a while Bentley gets really upset if I don't give him enough time to discard his high point cards. B boy tends to trade out only for 0s and 1s which can be a mistake. Of course, B does have above average luck, so he often pulls it off. There's only four 0s in the deck and he usually has at least two of them.

As a grandma I'm not above manipulating a game now and then to help out a preschooler, but I don't usually need to because Bentley is good at games and, as I've mentioned, quite lucky with his draws.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Mommy!

I tried to get the kidlets to form hearts with their hands and this is what happened:

I interviewed the children separately to find out their answers to the following questions:

How old is mommy?
V: I don't know. 48.
J: 5. I don’t know. You tell me. 24.
B: 17. (He told me he heard daddy say mommy was 16, so now she must be turning 17 he reasoned.)

What does mommy want to do on her birthday?
V: Decorate the house.
J: Get presents. Get cake. We'll all eat cake!
B: Have some friends over.

What do you want to do on mommy's birthday?
V: Wrap presents.
J: Get her presents and eat cake.
B: Watch her open presents.

What birthday gift does mommy want?
V: A princess doll.
J: A telephone. Band-aids. Cat toys for the kitty. A new kitty.
B: A dress.

What does mommy want for her birthday dinner?
V: Spaghetti.
J: Cake. (The only accurate answer.)
B: Pizza.

What is something special we can do for mommy on her birthday?
V: Wrap her presents with a bow.
J: Get her presents.
B: Decorate the house.

What do you want to say to mommy on her birthday?
V: Happy Birthday?!
J: Happy Birthday to you.
B: Happy Birthday!
Did I word this question poorly? I was hoping for messages of love.

Okay I'm giving up on the birthday themed questions. Once I mentioned the word birthday all three children went into birthday ritual mode and even though they were interviewed separately, they gave very similar answers.

Here's my second round of interviews later in the day.

Tell me something nice about mommy.
V: It's her birthday.
J: She makes dinner. She kisses me.
B: She makes cookies for us. I love her.

What do you like to do with mommy.
V: Eat cake. Read books.
J: Play games. Sleep with her.
B: Play games. Read stories.

Why is your mommy the best mommy?
V: Because I like her.
J: 'Cause she makes the bestest food. Is that a good answer?
B: Because she does lots for us: she helps me finish my puzzle.

What does mommy collect?
(What does mommy have a lot of?)
V: Children.
J: Dresses.
B: Earrings. All kinds of jewelry. How about shoes? Skirts and pants.

Why do you like mommy?
V: Because she kisses us.
J: Because she makes my peanut butter and jelly and hugs me.
B: Because I love her. She takes me places where I want to go. Most of the time she lets me go to Grandma Karen's.

Finish the sentence "My mommy is _______.
V: beautiful.
J: good.
B: good. Did I get it right?

I quit. It's impossible interviewing preschoolers. I did my best.

I love you, Kara! I hope you enjoy your birthday. I know it will be filled with lots of love, hugs, kisses, and wrapped gifts.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nap Time Protest

The past week or more Jake has been proclaiming that he's not going to take naps any longer. For a while he was okay with being the only nap taker in the house. Now he's starting to protest. The problem is that he still needs a nap. Unlike his siblings, he easily falls asleep most afternoons and he's hard to wake up after two hours. He needs more rest than his siblings. And if Jake doesn't nap what will he be doing during quiet time?

Viva will happily look at books on her own in her bedroom for two hours in the afternoon. Bentley plays a game or two with great-grandma, grandma or daddy (on the weekends) and then he quietly occupies himself.

Jake likes to draw and he might be willing to draw for two hours every afternoon, but he'd still interact with Bentley and the house would not be peaceful and quiet like Kara and I NEED it to be for a short time every afternoon. Forget the kids, we still need nap time.

Sorry Jake, we're going to keep on enforcing nap time as long as we can.

Here's how nap time went this Sunday afternoon:

Viva was allowed to spend her quiet time looking at books in our bedroom. Usually she's in her bedroom sitting on the top bunk surrounded by twenty to thirty books. Some afternoons Bentley joins her after he plays his games.

Bentley played Rat-A-Tat Cat with his father. It's a great game--quick and challenging. Bentley wins a lot of the time. He's pretty lucky when it comes to good draws.

Jake fell asleep in the craft room, his new napping spot. You can't see him in the photo, but Rameses is sleeping next to Jake. This is one of the bribes we use to get Jake to take a nap. Rameses loves to nap in the afternoon, so he's the perfect companion for Jake.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

She's Not a Boy!

Viva is not a boy. This distinction is made crystal clear daily because she lives with two brothers. Their behavior and interests provide a foil for us to view Viva against.

Bentley and Jake have many typical boy interests. They like collecting cars and monster trucks, playing with swords, making guns from Legos, creating new train layouts, reading about dinosaurs, throwing balls, building block towers, playing rough, etc. Viva participates in some of these activities...a little...but she doesn't ever choose these activities herself.

Our Viva is all girl. Her brothers have failed to entice her to the dark side.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Scissor Happy

Last week Jake spent a couple of afternoons happily cutting up magazine advertisements and great-grandma's newspaper. (He asked her permission first.) It's cheap entertainment. The only problem came when it was time to clean up. The first afternoon he had created a pile with a couple hundred little pieces of paper and he found the idea of cleaning them all up overwhelming. His mom said if he didn't clean up his mess, he'd not be able to cut again the next day. That was such a vile threat that he manfully attacked the pile.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Science Fun

Kara recently purchased a science activity book by Usborne. She let the kidlets take turns choosing activities from the book to do together. Bentley chose rockets, Viva chose volcanoes, and Jake refused to choose.

Kara and the trio made rockets from straws, lightweight cardboard, and tape. The children liked playing with the rockets. They had no expectations of how they would fly. Kara was not impressed with the rockets. They did not really soar or fly. When thrown they traveled a short distance before crashing, but as far as gliding, no, they didn't.

Next was foaming volcanoes. Foaming volcanoes are created by partially filling a jar, vase, or glass with white vinegar, adding a couple drops of dish soap, a drop or four of food coloring, and a shake or two of glitter. Mix well. Then plop a heaping teaspoon of baking soda into the container. Just like magic the volcano erupts and lovely, glittery foam flows up and over the container rim.

This activity was a big hit. The children requested many repeat performances. They did it with Kara a few times, they did it with me twice, and they showed off for their dad, too.