Thursday, June 30, 2011

Paper Artwork

We go through reams of construction paper in our household. We let the kids use as much as they want for whatever they want. Surprisingly enough, they've never abused that privilege. Some days they draw, some days they cut. The past couple of weeks has seen a lot of cutting.

One Sunday Viva brought home a set of finger puppets from Primary (church Sunday school). Bentley liked the idea of finger puppets, so he got out a pen, tape, paper, and scissors and went to work. After the first puppet he wanted the others to be the same size. He asked me for help. I showed him how to use his first one as pattern for later ones. Instead he recruited me as cutter.

The following week Jake decided he and everyone else in the house needed bookmarks. He cut book marks of every size. He gave some to everyone. He cut extras for himself. He left a pile of bookmarks out on the counter overnight. Kara wanted to throw them out, but she wisely just moved them to the mudroom. The next morning Jake demanded to know where his bookmarks were. Kara tried to tell him he didn't need bookmarks since he couldn't read. He didn't fall for that lame argument. She had to give him back all his bookmarks. (She claims she threw out two and he didn't notice.)

All the kids have been making tape and paper piece animals. Kara wrote about Bentley's pterodactyl a week or so ago. After that Jake and Viva were inspired to make animals, too. Viva made a dragon.

We need to buy more Scotch tape at Costco. We tried an off-brand tape, but Bentley said it just wasn't any good. It was much harder to get off the dispenser.

P.S. Kara asked me to include these three fine examples of Jake's creative eye and great cutting skills. He produced these three animals (fish, elephant, duck) all one his own.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Dress

What Viva is CLEARLY lacking is dresses (slight sarcasm), so I decided to make her one.  She helped me pick out fabric and was quite excited!  A simple pattern, but simple seems to be what I can manage best.  Thanks to the cute model I think it turned out well.  And?  I learned how to shirr fabric.  Quite exciting.  :-)

She wore it 2 days in a row - quite the compliment, I think.  And she's told me to get working on more.  Right away.  I love the enthusiasm, she's certainly an easy customer to work with!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Birthday Pics!

Since the twins birthday fell on a Sunday this year, they were dressed up all pretty when we made it home from church. I thought a few shots of them outside would be nice. Unfortunately the newly four year olds were not feeling completely cooperative after sitting for three hours of church! Ah well! We did get a few shots.

Here they are with some trademark funny faces:

and looking cute:

and here is the older brother, looking rather handsome next to the blue poppies:

I can't believe how big they all are, and I hear children just keep growing every year... :). Scary and exciting at the same time; I look forward to the next year!

Celebrating DAD!

My belated Father's Day post.  :-)

Matt had to travel for work on Father's Day this year, so we celebrated a day early.  The children got him some presents that were great for him AND them:

1) M&Ms - to help him eat
2) a camping air mattress - to encourage him to keep going out with them
3) legos - to build with them

They have good taste, right?!

I tried interviewing them about their Father.  Some of them (one of them?!) was more verbose than the others.  Ah well.  Here's what they had to say.

I asked Jake what he likes to do with his Dad.  He said:

"I like that Daddy builds legos.  I like playing games and going camping with Daddy."

Jake can be a man of few words, so that was that from Jake.

Next up was Viva.  She is not a girl of few words, but she is one who refuses to engage when asked to.  Ah well.  Here's what she had to say about Dad:

"I like to play with him.  And then play with him more."

I prompted her for details.  So she added:

"I like reading books with him, and I like when he gives me M&Ms."

I finished off with Bentley.  His thoughts:

"I like to play with legos with Daddy, play outside with him, and go on adventures.  Daddy likes to play with us, work, and eat chocolate chip cookies.  I like that Daddy is silly and builds things with me."

And there you have it.  The thoughts of the little tikes.

Here they are opening gifts on our Saturday Father's Day:


Monday, June 27, 2011

Seward Trip: Jake & Daddy's Adventure Day

Last year Bentley had the chance to go on the Alaska Railroad with Daddy and my cousin Ben down to Seward, where they did a cruise of Resurrection Bay with a stop at Fox Island for lunch.  He had a grand time and talked it up; so Jake has been asking for this same adventure experience.  Today was the day!  For the last few days Jake has been reticent about going (the joys of being a terrible three?!), but luckily he started coming back around to the idea yesterday evening.  And he got up like a champ at 5:20 am and told me that he was going to have a "super fun time"!  I asked him if he would tell me all about it upon his return, and he said "No, I can't.  We're going to be gone for a LONG time so I can't tell you everything we do".


Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Here are a few photos from Daddy's iPhone that they sent me during the day.

On the way:

Checking out the dining car on the train (apparently bacon was the highlight):

Taking a rest on the train.  He told his Dad "there was just going to be more mountains, trees, and water, so it was ok to sleep now!"

Made it onto the boat, lookin' for those whales:

Made it, off the boat and back to the railroad (isn't he cute?!):

They saw a whale and a blow hole, some marine animals (sea lions) and birds (bald eagles and puffins), and ate lots of good food.  I sent a camera with Jake, but Matt says Jake was so busy looking around wide eyed that he didn't have time for the camera.  :-)

Jake brought home postcards for his brother & sister and reports that it was a good trip.  Thanks for the fun time, Daddy!

She styled herself....

I think she is trying to use her barrettes to create a dreadlock look? I'm not sure. Overall though, the look works for her!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Viva on Her 4th Birthday


She likes pink, purple, bows, frills, nail polish, ice cream, etc. She likes princesses. She doesn't much care for boy interests.

She is very observant. She spends hours looking at books. When she's outside she is on the go from one end of the yard to the other marching along the brick retaining wall, climbing the dirt pile, or checking out the raspberry patch.

She loves to get her hands on and in things. She loves to play at the water table and in the swimming pool. She likes to play with her food at meal time sans utensils. This evening she was eating ice cream with her fingers. Don't ask.

When she sets her mind to do something--or not do it--she sticks with her plan despite any threats or punishment doled out by parents and grandparents. Viva cooperates when she wants to and only when she wants to. You have to admire such intransigence even when it makes you mad.

She's always up for a trip. A trip anywhere--the grocery store, the playground, the mall, the campground, the church, the zoo, South Dakota, Idaho. Sign her up. She likes to get out of the house and see new things.

She's not tender-hearted or tender-skinned. She doesn't cry very often. She doesn't ask for hugs very often either. Our Viva is quite self-reliant.

While she prefers to pick her own outfits, she's a good sport about letting us choose her clothes every now and then. She loves to wear dresses and we love to see her in dresses, so it's the perfect match.

Not all the time, but a lot of the time. She tends to fly under the radar doing her own thing. She isn't one to ask for assistance. She doesn't generally ask you to play games with her or help her build with blocks or Legos. She prefers to work on projects alone. However, when she throws a temper tantrum she does it at full volume.

We LOVE Viva's sleep ethic. Once she is out, she stays out. She sleeps late. Warning: You do not want to wake her up before she's ready to get up. Not pleasant. Not at all.

She is often the first of the trio to accomplish basic skills. Sometimes she astounds me. Did you do that yourself?!

She does a few things that I find disturbing. She still talks about eating bugs. I haven't challenged her on this issue because I'm afraid she'll follow through.

She is not as prolific an artist as her brothers, but she has her moments. She'd like to paint more than we allow her to. (Painting is a supervised activity; drawing is not supervised.) I think Viva would love sculpting, but we haven't done much with clay.

I kind of covered this under stubborn, but I wanted to expand on this trait. Viva likes to pick her own path. Kara is worried that she won't make a very willing learning partner. How will we teach her to read or do simple sums? It'll be interesting. Viva loves books, so maybe we won't have to do much more to educate her than keep her supplied with a wide range of reading material.

Jake on His 4th Birthday


He loves balls, cars, blocks, and dinosaurs. He likes blue jeans and t-shirts. He likes to fight with swords.

Extremely cute. Extremely fragile--his hold on his temper is often precarious. If we don't give him what he wants when he wants it, it gets ugly. At times he is a little powder keg of seething frustration. (It's not easy being a little kid with grownups calling all the shots.)

He usually keeps his distance from people outside the family. He doesn't like new situations. While Jake likes to go on adventures, he prefers adventures to places he's familiar with.

He hates it when his hands are dirty or wet. Whenever the basketball rolls into a puddle, he insists on wiping it dry. He freaks out when he gets mud or grass stains on his jeans.

When he does something, he does it thoroughly. No half measures or quick interests for Jake. His vehicle memory tiles were his favorite things for months. Then he took up checkers and has stuck with that for months. He has liked monkeys for two years now. He spends hours cutting up paper and drawing loops on his pictures.

He's always running (and slipping!) across the hardwood floors in our home. When he's angry you want to keep a safe distance from him because his feet and hands starting flying.

He is both tender-hearted and tender-skinned. He doesn't like being teased. Whenever he runs into anything or falls down, he needs to be comforted.

When he wants something he gets in your face and loudly tells you what it is. When Jake's mad, the whole house knows about.

It's the cheeks. And the voice. And the personality.

Sometimes he is very contrary. When you ask him a question he'll answer the opposite of what's expected and stick to his answer. "No, I don't like that." Seriously?! So not true.

Sometimes Jake is more than even Jake can take. Living with himself can be difficult. We can take a break from Jake now and then, but Jake can't.

He is the very expressive and given to using hyperbole. "I just love you too much, kitty." "That's my favorite thing in the whole world." He makes his statements with total conviction. I wish I could remember more of them because it's so amusing hearing them come out of the mouth of a little kid.

Jake does a great job drawing. His etchings are quite elaborate. He spends a good deal of time on each work, sometimes doing both the back and the front.

He gives the best hugs--sometimes his hugs are so awesome you feel strangled. He likes to cuddle with the people he loves.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lego Castle

Bentley has been working diligently on this Lego creation for the past week or more. His dad has been out of town and he has sorely missed him as a building partner. Bentley did most all the work himself, but he wanted the input of a male advisor. By Wednesday of this week he started begging his opa to come upstairs and help him with his castle. Opa has been assigned a number of home projects to work on and he didn't have any free time to help Bentley. Bentley was very disappointed. Finally last night I gave in and released my worker bee (opa) from helping me so that he could assist Bentley. Bentley was very happy. I'm sure opa was, too. Would you rather paint the garage or play with Legos?

Party Prep

The twins' birthday is tomorrow! We, of course, have had lots of discussions about it over the past week or more. Gifts have been arriving--a big package from Grandma Vicki and various packages from ordered by mommy and grandma (me). Yesterday we all went to the store and Viva and Jake picked out two birthday balloons (a birthday tradition at our house) and crepe paper. Viva chose pastel purple crepe paper (the only shade of purple for sale) and Jake chose pastel blue. The two choices go together well, but they don't match our stockpile of bold colored tissue paper decorations. The children don't care.

The twins are not having a party with friends. They haven't asked for one and their mommy says four year olds don't appreciate birthday parties enough to make the bother worth it. (A valid observation.) They have asked about a piñata, but I've told them piñatas hold way too much candy for just three children. I was thinking we could dangle a bag of Skittles and let the children whack away at it, but my housemates think that would make too big a mess. Perhaps they are right.

Today we have to finish putting up the decorations and start wrapping gifts. Tomorrow--on the big day!--we will bake cakes. Jake asked for a rainbow cake. Viva told her mommy she should pick what kind to make for her. Since I've volunteered to make Viva's cake, I decided it will be strawberry. I thought about beet, but what if beet cake tastes as awful as it sounds? I better save that experiment for a nonbirthday event.

Citibloc Fun

Bentley received some Citiblocks for Christmas this past year. Citiblocks are long thin "sticks" of wood, and you can build some pretty complex structures with them. Recently they have become of great interest. Bentley pulled them out and got his worker (aka Grandma) busy building with him. Or for him in some cases... management skills are important, right?! The blocks came with a book of ideas for building, ranging from doable to "YEAH RIGHT"!

In the past few days he has started building some of his own creations - car garages, storage "boxes",... It is fun to see his creativity as he plays with a new type of building material!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jake: the cherubic and terrifying one

If you were to scroll back through recent blog posts, a disturbing lack of Jake may come to your attention. Why is that? Well... I like to focus on the positive. And Jake has been having a rough week or two. My theory is that he realized his birthday is FAST approaching and he never fully explored the terrible threes, which seemed a shame to him since he wasn't very good at being a terrible two either. So he wanted to give it a go!

Here he is at the playground - isn't he cute? He wanted the big red swing chair and didn't want to wait. So he threw himself down on the rocks to wail. His older brother handed the chair over (sweet, yes... teaching him? no!).

I love this kid. He can be SO sweet! And he gives the best hugs. But when he gets upset, he can go a little ballistic. You know... the type of three year old in need of some anger management training. I'm sure you've met at least one like him! Last week I checked out three new books on parenting boys from the library. We'll see if they bring wisdom!

The sad part is you can see the melt downs coming. But you can't always avoid them. It starts with a question or a demand, at the end of which he says "yes? YES? YES?" (his sales technique to ensure buy in for his plan - he's going to do well in sales when he's older!). Sometimes, being the adult & parent, I say "no, Jake" instead of the wanted "yes". And then... 10, 20, 30 minutes later... well. He has a hard time recovering.

He does a GREAT job of being a terrifying three year old. I've tried to tell him he's defintely a winner at it and can move on, but he's having none of that. So maybe on Sunday we'll move into the fabulous fours?

To be fair... he is sweet a good amount of the time. It's just that like the little girl with the little curl in the middle of her forehead... when he rages it is amazing! He is so full of passion! He can stomp his feet and wail like a pro (something neither Bentley or Viva have ever attempted, so I am still amused by it)!

But to document the other sides of Jake, here are a few cute things I love lately about him:

1) he carries around his scriptures and asks us to read to him from them. he does this multiple times a day! he is seeking solace and a calm center from the Lord, perhaps?! :-)
2) on the subject of God, he is also ALWAYS eager to say the prayers. we have to remind him he can't pray WHILE other people are!
3) cute phrases he uses: "I certainly can!", "I am THAT clever!" "Oh yes I will!" - all said with appropriate amounts of attiude, of course
4) he is a quick helper - if I ask him to run and grab me something he's off like a bullet and does it!
5) he naps! okay - not a "cute thing", but certainly something I appreciate. this child needs his naps. they make him happy. and I am a fan of children that nap, so it's a win-win
5) last, but not least, he gives great big hugs. you can't beat that!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Wallet" Shots!

For Father's Day Opa helped me line the kids up and tell them to look serious for some new "studio" style portraits of the little trouble makers!  I think they turned out awesome, thanks for the help Opa!

One Lucky Kid...

As I've mentioned before, the cat has a few odd ideas about his role in grooming my children. Here's some photo proof:

Notice the ever so slightly extended claws in the paw resting on Bentley's head. To keep him in place, right?!

You may wonder why we took a photo instead of stopping this bizzare show of affection. There's really no point in stopping the cat, as the kids encourage him... they like it/think he is funny. From talking to other cat owners apparently our cat is not the only hair licking feline out there. So I say....

whatever! Don't sweat the small stuff, right?!

P.S. - don't be too alarmed. We use soap on that hair. Frequently. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Alaskan Boy

It was 63 and sunny this evening, and Bentley thought this was just way too hot. Biking and basketball lead to this:

He said he was just "way too hot".

Good thing he doesn't live in Texas! Silly kid.

P.S. - isn't his tattooed arm nice? That's dinosaur row there.

I'm Movin' *Up* in the World!

My admirers (or I like to think they are, at least) have found some other flowers to pick for center pieces besides the ever popular dandelion - behold the other "pest" of our back yard area! :-)

Next we need to pull out the food coloring and make some colorful petals for our white friends...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Daddy & Viva hit the road

After the boys and Matt enjoyed their night out camping, it was Viva's turn! They were lucky enough to have another gorgeous weekend and Genevieve was quite eager to hit the road!

They headed out Friday afternoon, and we didn't see them again for almost 24 hours. I kind of wondered how it would go/what they would do. Viva isn't into quite the same activities her brothers have in mind when they head out. Matt reports she enjoys quiet reflection - sitting by the fire. She also enjoyed food - smores, brats, trail mix, ... and more more more. She likes to eat!

I'm not sure what happened with the rest of the hours of idyllic outdoor time, but both parties report the outing was a success!

Good times.

Viva's Paper Creation

The twins were inspired by Bentley's dinosaur paper creation, and got busy with the scissors and tape earlier. We're going to need to stock up on our Scotch tape collection (they tried an off brand, and informed us it just was "NOT WORKING"!)...  Jake is still not finished (picture coming soon!), but Viva got her paper all cut up and then put back together in short order.

She grabbed it off the table, held it up, and said:

"Here it is!  I put it all together so now I can throw it out"!.  

I love it.  This girl is not a pack rat.  :-)

I convinced her to let me take a picture of it before it hit the trash, at least.

Fun With the Puzzle Animals

Fun with the puzzle-scapes the Easter Bunny brought earlier this year!  Aren't these beautiful creations?  The animals all fit back together into a rectangular puzzle shape when you're done playing with them, they're quite cute.

Oddly enough, Jake asked: "why hasn't the Easter Bunny called to see if we like our puzzles"?!  I didn't have a ready answer.  I didn't know the Easter Bunny did follow up calls to assure the gifts were well received, I'll have to keep that in mind for next year.  :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Construction Paper =

this fine looking pteradactyl

Bentley's creation. He cut it out all out and taped it all together. He pulled out a pteradactyl model to use during his design, and other than one cut in the middle he asked Grandma to make it was all him! He labored away for a good hour!

It's hard to capture how 3d this is, but it is quite the masterpiece. You'll have to take my word for it.

P.S. - although hard to tell, this is not just white paper. It has glitter, which makes it twice as cool. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The (non) addict at play

Here's a relatively rare picture - Viva engrossed on the iPad.  Boys and girls are definitely different, and my kids are a good example of that.   Viva is just not "into" the same things that the boys are - the iPad and games on it being in that category.  And when she does play she uses different apps.  She likes the art apps, here is a picture from last week:

She drew this particular masterpiece to send to her Father in Barrow - isn't technology great?  She likes the art apps, the music ones (composing her own "scores" using barnyard animals dragged onto the stave!), and singing alphabets, ... the boys like the dinosaur encyclopedia, the games (checkers for Jake, every time!), and whatever is new.  It is fun seeing how they use it differently.

On a somewhat related note, our new favorite iPad use is Facetime!  We get to talk to Matt with video whenever he's out of town, and the kids enjoy holding up their pictures/new lego creations/the cat/whatever they want to "show" him their day.  We're lucky to have technology!

My New Picture Wall

I had my baby mirror shots printed on canvas for a skinny wall we have in our home.  Aren't they good looking?  :-)

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Hair: Follow Up

So Viva and I aren't pros at the hair curling business yet... ah well.  Practice makes perfect, right?  But we did end up with a different hair style for the day, so it was all good with her!  And she gave me some of her trademark funny faces when I told her I needed a picture:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Rameses!

Our kitty cat turned 1 on Tuesday (June 7th). He is definitely a well loved addition to the family by the kids; and he has a stellar personality - he puts up with often over affectionate love from his little owners! Here are they are treating him extra nice "because it's his birthday" (Bentley's words):

Here are some random facts about the cat & the kids:

- he can be found in Bentley's bed 80% of the time at night
- when he cheats on Bentley, it's because he's with Jake
- for some reason he NEVER sleeps in Viva's bed, I think he prefers the males
- Jake's cat catch phrase is "oh!! I just love you TOO much, kitty"!
- Rameses has never hissed at the kids, I don't think I've ever even seen his tail puffed up - he is very easy going
- our cat is social - despite the rough love he receives he chooses to follow us around during the day most days to hang out
- Rameses likes to lick the kids heads (and hands... and feet)... yuck! when he tries to lick me I tell him NO, but for some reason the kids don't mind it

Quotes about the cat:

From Bentley - "He's warm, he's snuggly to sleep with, and he can jump really high. And I can meow just like him and it makes him come to me"

From Jake - "I like that he's so furry, that he sleeps on my bed at night, and that he runs so fast"

Visitor to house: "He's beautiful"!

Viva is out with her Daddy tonight, so I'll have to check in her thoughts later.

We're glad you're around, cat!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Summer tablescapes

The twins are in love with these gorgeous yellow flowers that are often referred to as weeds:

It seems like every time they go outside they manage to track down some more of them to bring in for the table. :-) This particularly bounteous harvest came from the playground. They were quite proud to have scored so many of them to bring me at once.

When it's just one or two of them we pull out a little crystal bud vase. This crop overwhelmed me, so I told them we'd call it a floating flower bowl display. :-) They only last a day or two, but luckily enough there are always more of them that can be found!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Curls: The Before Shot

I was wandering through Target the other evening (a very exciting place to be when you're alone, even if I can't quite put my finger on why that is... ) and came across pink foam curlers.  I was captivated.  Perhaps this is why I shouldn't shop late in the evening alone?

I never really did curlers as a kid besides rag curls for Easter; but for some reason these foam rollers called to me.  So I brought them home to my almost four year old.  :-)  Who was as pleasantly enthralled as I had hoped.

We tried putting her head under the faucet and wrapping all the hair this morning, and then pulling out the blow dryer.  Apparently these things take more than 10 minutes to dry (oops, my bad) even on fine hair... we had to scratch take one so we could make it to our park play date on time!  She was a good sport about it though.

We're trying again tonight.  Fresh bath and we're going to leave them in all night.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.  No matter how this experiment turns out it was already a hit, as Genevieve seems to think the curlers in hair is quite the fashion statement.  She asked if she could wear them like this all day.

Monday, June 06, 2011

FHE: The Spider & The Holy Ghost

I make an effort to do a weekly Family Home Evening night. Sometimes it goes better than other times, but I'm taking it in baby steps. First step? Calling Monday night game night. The kids love games so that was an easy sell. We've been doing that for about a year. This year I decided to "step it up" a notch.

First I started including treat baking every Monday night. That one was also easy for the kids to get into/remember! Next we moved up to including a lesson or story from our church's Friend magazine. Now we start it all out with a prayer. It's going well, even if the "spiritual" part of the evening is only 5-7 minutes!

So tonight Bentley picked a story about the Holy Ghost and how he speaks to us/helps us when we need direction. It was about a little boy who was running down a jungle path and suddenly heard a voice whisper, clearly "stop"! He stopped, and found a huge spider/spider web right in front of his face that he almost ran into.

I paused at this point in the story to ask the kids where they think the voice came from. Story comprehension is good, right? Bentley piped right up: "it was the Holy Ghost"! Smart kid, he knew where the story was going. Jake added: "I don't know, who was it?!?". Viva? Viva said "I know... I bet it was the SPIDER"!

Sometimes I'm not sure if she's messing with me on purpose. I suspect so, but I love her all the same. :-)

Picnic Time!

The kids are getting into the idea of summer. We've had a couple days of rain, but the sun was back today and they were quick to act on it. They requested to eat dinner outside, and who am I to say no to simple pleasures? :)

I'm not sure why they're all sitting on one side of the table (simply because they knew it would be a better photo?!)... I guess it's because they like each other, although the shrieks that were coming from the deck at times don't completely support that assumption!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Jake's Cutting Time

I'm always collecting thick paper for Jake to cut up. As we've mentioned he loves to cut. He'll happily spend 30 minutes cutting small pieces of paper into even smaller pieces of paper. I'm all for harmless entertainment; so we provide the materials for this habit!

Today I opened up my fitness magazine and it had a full page thick paper advertisement - score! I handed it over to Jake and about 15 minutes later he brought me this:

He says she's pretty. I guess this means his cutting is not all simply indiscriminate? Good to know, good to know.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Puzzle Pro in Training

Grandma has been working with Viva on puzzles. For some reason there are just not as many cool puzzles for little girls... where are all the flower and butterfly puzzles? You can find some princess ones... but there is not the huge number of "girly" themed ones we want! For boys? Sure. Dinosaurs, construction themes, reptiles, fish, other animals... trains.. and on and on.

Anyhow. Grandma has worked hard to collect some puzzles that would inspire our Viva. And Viva has been getting better and better at doing them! Today she did a 48 piece puzzle (and these were little pieces!) all by herself!