Sunday, July 31, 2011

New cat bed

Our poor cat is having a bit of a rough time lately. He's not quite sure WHAT the baby is, or WHY he isn't allowed to lick him. His favorite person (aka Matt) no longer has a lap as available for nap time in the evening. He's not sure why he's not allowed in my room anymore (I don't want him climbing in the bassinet!), and his young owners have been a little rough lately.

I think things are starting to settle back down though. I even let him nap on the bed in my room for half an hour last night.

In the mean time? He's found a new might fine place to nap.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Baby Tricks

Our new little guy is 2 weeks old, so here's a list of all his "accomplishments" and "skills" so far!

It's quite amazing how different 1 baby is than 2. I'd forgotten! And, quite luckily for us, Lincoln is very easy going. It's hard work to upset this baby, and he's easy to calm down if he does get upset. He's awesome! He's perfect! Everyone should get a model just like this one!

Okay. Onto his baby tricks.

1) he can roll over from his stomach to his back. Apparently he's not a fan of tummy time? We have witnesses who've seen it. And it wasn't just a one time fluke, it's happened 10 times!

2) he can smile! he smiles when we talk to him. cousin Ruth could make him smile extra big with her magic nurse tickle finger:

3) he can hit toys (perhaps accidentally?!) and stares at them quite intently:

4) he is a champion sleeper. He sleeps lots and lots. He can sleep in the living room while his brothers engage in noisy sword fights, the phone rings, and his sister plays bells close to his ears. Amazing skill, right?!

5) last, but by no means least, he is busy creating love and happiness! We love our Lincoln! He makes us happy. :-) Jake tells me every day how much he loves the baby. He's very verbal about it. Bentley isn't quite as verbal, but he's very affectionate. He's always patting him on the head, sitting next to him, and offering to keep an eye on him for me. Viva reads stories with him, and likes to hug him. He sits with Great-Grandma for a while every morning (or evening, or both!). They chat! He sits and chills with Opa. He reads and dozes and eats with Daddy. He spends plenty of time with Grandma. And, of course, I hog him quite a bit of the time. Because he's so delicious I could eat him up (but I won't, don't worry). We're glad you're here, baby!

Not a bad list of tricks for just 14 days old, right?!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Grow Baby Grow!

Lincoln had his 2 week well baby Dr. check up today. He was 7 lbs 14 oz at birth, had lost a little in the first week, and is now up to 8 lbs 14 oz. Yikes! What a champion grower! He is 22 inches, which is 2 more than he was 2 weeks ago. If we are to believe that measuring an infant's height is an exact science. :)

In any case, he is growing very well. He seems to want to catch up to his siblings in record time? We're here to serve. Eat, sleep, grow.

Weekend fun/cute baby in shades!

It is another gorgeous Alaskan weekend, so Matt took the boys out camping. Summer weather is not equally weighted with the winter weather around here so it would be silly to waste beautiful outside time being inside!

Viva stayed home with Lincoln and I (and Grandma and Opa and Great Grandma... !). First she played in the pool (a favorite, as you've probably noticed from the blog lately):

We made pool time even better by including popsicles. (Jake & Bentley won't eat them - too cold, they say - their loss!).

After pool time Viva and Lincoln did a few quick pictures together:

We're working on baby holding skills still. To be fair, his head is pretty heavy so it's no wonder her arm drooped. ;-) I think Lincoln is growing on his big sister. She asked me today if she can be a Mommy when she grows up. I told her that I hope so, and that she'll be lucky (like me) if she gets to be a Mommy!

And what did Lincoln do with the evening? He ate, slept, and looked cute. Which are the three jobs of a baby so he gets an A+ for baby skills!

Babies and sunglasses. I love the combination.

Do you notice his smile in the second picture? Some people claim newborns can't smile. Or that it's just gas if they do. They are wrong, wrong wrong. This baby has a gorgeous smile and it isn't just pulled out as the result of random facial twitches!

Checker Passion

Jake continues to love playing checkers. He plays on the iPad every few days. Or he plays with his dad.

He's very serious about his game.

I recently played a game with him. At first I thought he was a lame player and I gave him a few easy removes, but then his game took a sharp turn for the better and I lost! Huh? Did he sandbag me?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Splash Passion

Playing in the rain with umbrellas!

The twins received umbrellas for their birthday. The trio had long coveted umbrellas from the kids' department at Walmart. I didn't think they'd get a lot of use out of umbrellas, so I whenever the trio asked me to buy them, I said no. However, in June I was stuck for birthday gift ideas for the twins and so I found myself buying umbrellas. I also purchased one for their big brother since it's rather hard to share an umbrella while dancing in the rain.

The children played with their umbrellas inside. One time Bentley and Viva went outside and tried them under the sprinkler, but that wasn't a total success since sprinklers shoot water from below up. You can get water under the umbrella. Bentley did not like that.

Finally this past Sunday we had a nice rainstorm. Viva grabbed her umbrella and headed outside. She had to talk her less adventuresome twin into joining her. Her older brother was taking a (highly unusual for him) nap while the action was going down.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Train Set

The train set doesn't get used very often. Probably because it's in our bedroom and the children don't play in our bedroom all that often. Sometimes when they ask to set up the trains we tell them there's not enough time before another activity starts.

However, once a month or so a train track is set up and the boys play with it for two or three days and then we take it down. Bentley builds elaborate track layouts all on his own. He built this one earlier in the month. (He asked opa for help connecting two sections.)

It wound around our bedroom floor making it difficult to get to the bathroom at night. Sometimes we remove larger pieces at night-time so as not to stumble into them in the dark. Of course this time of year, it's only dark for a couple of hours every night.

Jake prefers to play with the trains after someone else has built the tracks. have to keep an eye on her. She lets the battery operated engine run off the track and into the wall where she leaves it spinning its wheels. Or she breaks the track pieces by waving around three foot sections. Or she falls off the sofa chair onto the cargo lifter. She's not usually destructive, but when it comes to the train set I have to keep my eye on her.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Citibloc Passion

Citiblocs have dominated the play table in the main floor family room for the past month. At first I and Matt built structures for the boys. Bentley picked structures out of the booklet that came with the blocks and supervised me while I built them. I wasn't given much leeway. One particularly difficult structure I had a hard time with and B told me to quit working on it. "Grandma, you can't do it. I don't want you to waste time on it." Well that just made me really want to build it, but it really was nearly impossible. I think they used glue.

Soon after I was fired by B and he took over building himself using his own designs or copying elements of his father's designs. Matt still got recruited by Jake to build a structure "just like Bentley's". Matt wouldn't follow Jake's instructions. He built one similar to, but not just like, Bentley's. Matt wanted some creative license. Jake got really mad and fired him. And then J refused to share any of the Citiblocs with his dad, so Matt couldn't build his own structures.

Sharing Citiblocs is a problem. We started with a box of 500 Citiblocs. That sounds like a lot, but they are quickly used up. Kara and I each bought another set of 200. The first set arrived and contained pretty pink, red, yellow, and orange planks as well as natural colored ones. We told the boys it was Viva's set. They shared six planks with her. SIX!

The third set arrived (dark blue, teal, green, olive and natural) and Viva did get her hands on a pile of them. She did not build anything with them. If she didn't have brothers building elaborate structures would she attempt a simple design of her own?

I tried instituting a new rule. Structures can only remain up for two days. The day you build them and the following day. Then they come down and new structures can be built by anyone--even the adults. Bentley immediately tried to outmaneuver me. "What if I add on to something? Can I keep it longer?"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Best Gift Ever

Today was my birthday and my gift was...Lincoln! Kara told me months ago that my gift this year would be a new grandbaby. Way back then it didn't seem too real, but now it is. Lincoln is the best gift ever.

I have told my grandchildren that as a gift from them, I'd like a new group photo for my photo wall. Unfortunately today was rainy and busy, so there was no opportunity to take photos, but I'm going to try my hardest to get the children and the photographer together sometime during the next few days. I'll post the photo when I get it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Happy, Happy Baby

Lincoln has been a very good baby since the day he was born. He's very good-natured, not ever colicky. The first few days he was home we were puzzled at how much time he spent awake. It seemed odd for a newborn to be alert so often. Don't they spend all their time sleeping and eating?

He must have heard our discussions; now he's a big time sleeper. He spends most of the hours of the day and night sleeping when he's not eating. Sleeping on mommy. Sleeping on daddy. Sleeping on great-grandma. Sleeping on opa. Sleeping on grandma. He needs to sleep a lot to get in all his family obligations.

Sean & Ruth

Cousin Ruth came to town for a week for her best friend Minna's wedding. She brought her spouse Sean, who has been here before, but for a shorter time. Ruth came on her own to help out last fall when great-grandma had knee surgery.

The point is that the children know and love Ruth. She's one of their two favorite cousins--she and her sister Rachel. Well, they've been replaced, at least in Bentley's affections. Bentley had a wild crush on Rachel, but she's history.

Bentley thinks cousin Sean is The Best. How did he win our little guy over? He played soccer with the boys and Matt. That was good. He admired their Lego structures. He rough-housed with them. He showed them some of his action figures (he collects them). All of that was great, but what was the icing on the cake?

Sean can draw dragons! Sean is a very good artist. He says he trained himself during those endless hours of sitting in high school classrooms. Smart guy. I don't have anything to show for my hours of classroom boredom. Why didn't I take up serious doodling like he did?

Sean draws dragons and robots and many other things. B was most impressed by the dragons. He took the drawings that Sean made for him and taped them onto the wall next to his bed. Bentley has drawn some dragons himself, so this is important to him. Kara just recently purchased him a book on how to draw dragons. If Sean lived closer, we'd ask him to give B some lessons.

Sean is going to be a hard act to beat, although Ruth might have earned her way back to Number 1 Cousin slot on the twins' board by bringing them a box of salt water taffy. Viva is a foodie, so Ruth is undoubtedly #1 for her.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Splash Passion

We've had some fantastic weather lately. What is finer than a sunny summer day? I can think of one thing--a dive into an outdoor pool on a sunny summer day. That's paradise!

Unfortunately there aren't too many outdoor pools in Alaska. The ground heaves and permafrost layer make inground pool construction a risky business and few people attempt it. Alaskans have to settle for a lake or an indoor pool. Neither option is as fantastic as an outdoor pool (in my opinion).

Although we can't take the kids to a full-size outdoor pool, we can set up a kiddy pool and they have a grand time using it. That's what we did two Saturdays past while mommy, daddy and Lincoln were still at the hospital.

Our pool isn't large, but it still empties the hot water tank. The trio had a great time floating in it, splashing in it, and shrieking in it. I did wonder if I should try to quiet them down because the house next door is an assisted living facility and some of the residents had their windows open. I'm sure they could hear the children loud and clear. Did they enjoy hearing them? Did it bring back happy memories of their youth? Or did it give them a headache?

***** ***** ***** *****

Yesterday we grabbed another opportunity for fun in the pool. It was a scorcher of a day--by Alaskan standards--and so I set the pool up in the afternoon for the boys to play in. Viva was up the hill at the other grandparents' home.

The boys had a wonderful time splashing and attempting to float on their kick boards (the water wasn't deep enough). They asked me to set up their sprinkler toy. It's made from thick plastic and has holes that water shoots from in a circle. If you step on the right place the water shoots higher. The boys jumped on this spot until a seam popped. No more sprinkler. The boys howled and cried and demanded that I fix it. I couldn't.

No more fun for anyone. Bentley's teeth were chattering by then-- Alaskan sprinklers are COLD--and we decide it was time to dry off and go inside. Will the boys remember the fun or the drama more?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mommy & Baby

Here is a good photo of Kara and Lincoln. Mark had a hard time with their skin tones. Kara is always pale. Lincoln has those unusual skin tones that newborns always have--a rosy shade of jaundice? Anyway, it is a great photo despite the mismatched skin coloring of mommy and baby.

Later: Mark tried the photo in sepia tones. That takes care of the differing skin tones. The baby and mommy are a much better match!

Boys Aren't Allowed To Be Pretty

The trio had a big fight after breakfast this morning. The baby--who doesn't seem to mind their typical noisy level of play--was disturbed by the fight. The boys made Viva so mad she started hitting them.

What started the fight? Kara brought the brush to comb Viva's hair and Viva protested. Kara told her she could get her hair combed or cut. Viva likes long hair, so she opted for the combing.

The boys, hearing the exchange, decided they wanted to have long hair, too. Bentley asked his mom when he could have a pony tail. She told him when he was 25. He and Jake both said they wanted pony tails.

Viva said they could not have one. She yelled at them "Boys can't have long hair. Boys aren't allowed to be pretty." They disagreed with her, so she took a swing or two at them. All three went to time out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stomp Rocket

For Jake's birthday we gave him a Stomp Rocket Junior. Their father took them to the school playground yesterday to try it out. They quite liked it. The boys at least. Viva did it a few times, but then wandered off while the boys were still stomping away.

Those rockets go high!

The boys came home and immediately made plans to go back to the playground in the evening for more stomping. Opa and I walked over with them after dinner and supervised the activity. Bentley did a 5-4-3-2-1 countdown before jumping. Jake would crouch down so low before jumping that I was amazed he could get any height or force in his jump. Viva had the most interesting stomp style--very casual and not all that forceful. Her rocket did not go as high as the boys' rockets did, but it went much higher than I expected it to.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Baby Magic

It only took Lincoln four days to overcome Bentley's reserve. Here is the proof:

Here's a few more photos of Lincoln:

He's adorable. He has the cutest little toes. Newborns are incredible little wonders.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Puzzle Passion

We have quite a few different passions in our home. I'll be detailing a few of them over the next week. (I already told you about Lego Passion.) It's not so odd that we have several different interests because there are five adults in the household and we each have our individual fascinations.

I am the one in our home who is primarily responsible for the children's love of jigsaw puzzles. Matt has done a few puzzles with the kidlets, too, but not nearly as many as I have. This might lead you to believe that I have a great love for jigsaw puzzles. I don't. I enjoy doing a good jigsaw puzzle now and then, but only if I am working on it with someone else. I probably went an entire decade without doing a jigsaw puzzle before Bentley was born.

Why did I want the children to love jigsaw puzzles? I think they are great brain building tools. Who doesn't want their child or grandchild to have a great brain?!

For the twins' birthday I bought them each a 100 piece puzzle. I had told myself I would not purchase more puzzles because we have quite a few, but then I saw these simply delightful and perfectly themed puzzles at the toy store.

Viva put hers together just a few days after her birthday. When Jake did his a week later, she informed him that "You should have done your puzzle when I did mine!"

Jake was so enamored of the knight and dragons on his puzzle that after finishing it, he immediately tore it apart and did it again.

Both twins can do their 100 piece puzzle in under an hour. I help them sort the pieces into two piles, border pieces and inner pieces. I stick around while they piece the border giving them a few hints if needed and then they do the rest of the puzzle by themself. They insist on it.

At the same time I purchased the twins' birthday puzzles, I bought yet another dinosaur puzzle, a 400 piece. It was labeled a family puzzle and had pieces in three different sizes. I gave it to Bentley when Jake started his puzzle.

Bentley recruited his great-grandma to do the puzzle with him and I also helped. It took us a little more than three hours working together to piece it. When I purchased it, I envisioned all three kids working on it together, but I think we might have to wait another year or two. It was not an easy puzzle. Our master puzzler, B boy, got burned out the last half hour. He stayed at the table supervising great-grandma and I (to make sure we stayed on task), but he quit putting in pieces. The brown dinosaur in the lower right corner was very hard to piece. I tried, B tried, I tried again. I saved it for last. I was convinced more than once that we were missing pieces of it. We weren't.

Isn't it an awesome puzzle? It is sold by Cobble Hill. The twins' puzzles are sold by Crocodile Creek. They are very nice puzzles, although not quite as high quality as Ravensburger puzzles.

P.S.S. Here are two more puzzle photos that I didn't get around to posting in a timely manner. The boys were playing with their Easter puzzles last month and created these cool puzzle scapes. (Viva was, of course, off doing her own thing.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

They're Home!

Can you believe it?! They are home already. Less than 60 hours after giving birth by C-section Kara brought baby Lincoln home.

The doctors were encouraging Kara to stay another day or even two. Kara doesn't much care for hospital beds or hospital food or hospital noise. You get the picture--she doesn't much care for hospitals.

So she carefully planned her campaign for early release. First she had the baby very early in the morning so day zero was almost a full day. Clever planning!

Next she asked to have her IVs removed as soon as possible. She started cutting back on her pain meds so she could establish with the nursing staff that she was ready to be released.

Everything was going great with her campaign until she found out that the baby wasn't ready to go. He needed various tests and his car seat had to be approved by the hospital staff. (Or what? They keep the baby?!) There was a scramble this morning to get it all done after the doctor fell in line with The Master Plan and said Kara could leave early.

We are thrilled to have Kara and Lincoln home. Great-grandma got to hold the baby. The cat met the baby. Everything is wunderbar.

Daddy Do List

When Bentley learned that his dad was going to be staying home from work for the next few days to help out with everything, he immediately got working on a list of things he wanted to do with his dad. He made this fine illustrated list.

Can you guess what's on it? Try and figure out before you look at the cheat sheet below. Bentley's artwork really is great and you ought to be able to figure out most of what is on his list.

Cheat Sheet: (not in order!) a Lego block, a basketball hoop and ball (for all sports outside), a Wii controller, the TV on its stand, yard tools (for working), a playground, the van (for adventuring), and a book (for reading).

I hope daddy gets some sleep tonight. He's got a busy week ahead of him.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Sibling: Day 2

The new sibling has a name! After conferring with each other this afternoon the proud parents offered up the name Constantine Augustus. Who knew they were such fans of the Roman Empire? Certainly not I!

So how did Day 2 go for the little one? I think he enjoyed the day for the most part. He was quite alert and got a number of compliments from the hospital staff. The doctor who visited Kara was quite surprised how well he could hold his head up. He said that's a skill that most babies don't master for a few months. Way to go Auggie!

I brought the baby's brothers over to bond with him in the morning. The plan was for the boys and I to visit Kara and "her baby" for a short time until Mark and Viva joined us. Then we'd head out for a quick trip to Costco, if there is such a thing.

Mark and Viva did not show up for quite some time. First they had to install the car seat, then they had to go back for the ice pack they forgot. (Viva ratted on you opa!) They finally arrived and Bentley wanted to leave immediately. I told him we had to give Viva a little time with the baby.

Well B had reached his saturation point with hospital rooms and new babies. He became very depressed. I seriously wondered if he were coming down with the flu. Not a good thing to have when visiting mommy and her new baby. He complained that his pants were way too tight (did his stomach hurt?!). I loosened them. Then he climbed in my lap and looked very forlorn.

I asked him if he needed to go straight home (skip Costco) and go to bed? He said that he wanted to go home and play games with great-grandma. Okay...maybe he wasn't sick. Maybe he was just overwhelmed?!

The twins continue to shower the baby with kisses and gentle pats on his head. They like him. Jake held him for a very short time. Viva tried holding him, too, but when he started squirming she was ready to shove him off. Bentley continues to keep his distance. No touching whatsoever. He did come a little closer today than yesterday. He told me he'd touch him when he's two. That's the age when the twins were acceptable. Or so he says.

How much does he remember about the twins' invasion of his early childhood? He was 17 months old when they were born. He was bewildered by the huge upheaval of his life, but he seemed okay with the changes. Now I wonder. What unresolved issues has he buried in his subconscious?!

P.S. The parents were teasing us about the Roman name, they chose Lincoln Henry as the name for their third son. I like it. Much, much, much better than Constantine Augustus. Or how about Rafe Kruger? That was one of opa's suggestions. That and Orville Peter--so his initials would be OPA. Lincoln is a great name!

P.S.S. Opa has suggested Abe as nickname for Lincoln Henry. I don't think Kara and Matt are going to buy into his idea, but I think it's an interesting choice.

Mad for Mosiacs

Viva and Jake received some fun sticker mosiac art kids for their birthday from Grandma Karen and Grandpa Tim. Viva couldn't wait to rip the box open and get started! Glitter, jewels, and stickers all combined with princesses? Brilliant! I let her do one a day, and she did them all on her own with no help. They kept her quite delightfully occupied.

She did a very good job of laying out the stickers in just the right places. And her favorite part, of course, was adding the sparkly gem looking pieces. I'd say she gave this 100% of her attention, which is unusual for her except when it comes to her love of books!

I better keep this girl away from the coloring books - paint by numbers might be right up her ally. :)

Lego Deer

Who knew that lego photographer would one day be a line I would add to my resume?! Certainly not something I anticipated, although I should have seen it coming given my husband's rather large lego collection.

A week or two ago Bentley came up with these duplo deer. I think they're quite brilliant. I just remembered to ask Opa for the picture of them, to post, but then decided the picture didn't do them justice.

So today I found myself posing them and taking some more, getting the angle and lighting right. Lego photographer, that's me.
Isn't he creative? They're lovely!