Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Faces of Evan

I bought some sour gummy worms the other day and we gave Evan a few.  I think he liked them.

This kid has lots of cute expressions.  He looks an awful lot like Bentley some days, and a lot like Jake on others.  I guess you could even say he looks like Lincoln?  We'll settle for saying they all look related.  :)

The Girl

It's been too long since there was some pink on the blog, so here's a picture of Viva in a self selected outfit last week.  I'm so glad that my girl child likes girly stuff!  I know there are plenty of women who are proud to be tom boys and all that, but I am definitely not one of them.  I'm happy to be female and embrace pink!  :)

Sweet appearance aside our Genevieve has been a bit of a snarly animal lately.  She continues to choose to express her shyness (or so her father would want me to label it, giving her the benefit of the doubt...) with snarls and humphs and loud glares.  This lovely behavior comes out whenever strangers compliment her or engage me in any type of conversation about her.  

Don't worry though - she doesn't limit her somewhat snarly behavior to strangers!  At home she often has a sassy mouth on her.  I have a few new parenting books on my bedside table right now.  Not just due to her, I'm also having trouble with Jake the super passionate.  Maybe it's just 5 yr olds that are trouble.... ?  If only!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Evan's Fridge Friend

New found mobility is treating Evan well.  He wanders the main floor with greater and greater ease and is discovering all sorts of awesome things!  One of his favorite finds?  The cute baby in the fridge.  He returns to this location often to gaze happily at that fabulous little guy.  Sometimes he even claps!  (Yes, he is an advanced baby.  He claps/waves his hands at the other baby with great vigor.  :) ).

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reading Time!

My best reading buddy and I on his favorite couch.  How lucky am I, right?!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Evan Educates Himself

When you're the youngest of five you have a lot of catching up to do it.  Baby knows that, and he already busy working on his Baby Einstein flashcards!

Everyday Life

Here's my latest photo dump that shows what everyday life is like in our home, sweet home.

Is Lincoln hiding from the cat?
Is the cat hiding from Lincoln?

Our diligent first grader hard at work.

smiling Jake 

Evan with his toy bin

Lincoln with his piano

Lincoln with his opa 

Lincoln with his book 

Lincoln with his mother, his brother, and his book 

Evan sitting!

Viva playing Sequence during Family Home Evening.

Bentley doing more schoolwork.
(He's standing on the metal rungs of the barstools.)

bubble bath

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rest Time!

Enjoying a break together.  Two soft cuddly beings, what a nice combination.  :)

(I admit it, I freely admit it - I post more pictures of Evan and Lincoln on the blog!  I am working to overcome my small person infatuation, but it's hard work.  It's undeniable that the smaller the human being the cuter it is.... my "big" kids are darn cute kids, but it's hard to beat that mini-mini person package!!!)

Time Out Truck

Lincoln has a bit (or a lot?) of an inner imp.  Lately he has become quite the little stunt master with his ride on car.  I can only imagine the fun he would have had with the motored little ride on cars Jake and Bentley had when they were little.... !

Unfortunately, life on the wild side is not without temptation.  Lincoln likes to drive dangerously close and then even closer to his little brother.  Little brother then scoots even closer to the danger, putting his hands and feet at risk of being squashed!  Sometimes Lincoln races right at him and then "puts on the brakes" at the last moment.  Which is sweet but my heart still pounds as I'm not sure I trust the 20 month old's sense of distance all that much.

After these magnetic two are drawn together once or twice I have to warn Lincoln: "If you drive close to your brother ONCE MORE I'm going to put that truck in time out"!  At which point Lincoln will hop up and take the car to the timeout room (aka the mudroom) himself.  Smart kid.  It's best to remove temptation from your path when you know you can't resist.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Legos! Legos! Legos!

Lego Fever continues. We had been going through a Lego Lull before this recent contagion. Jake, of course, never takes off more than a few days, but the rest of the household hadn't been doing much with Legos. However, that changed last month and now the boys and opa are building old and new Lego sets every week. Jake and Bentey let me take apart a few sets and store them away to create room for new structures. Unfortunately I think they built two structures for every one I put away.

Jake gave me his Lego City Fire Plane to deconstruct, but then he rebuilt his Lego City Fire Station which takes up more room by far. Lincoln loves playing with it, but it tends to fall apart, so after putting it back together twice, I relocated it to a safer place. Jake also rebuilt two Star Wars sets and his Lego City Truck (a large semi-truck with container van). Bentley rebuilt his Dino T-Rex Hunter and his City Power Boat Transporter set. Both Bentley and Jake have been working on their latest castle. They do good work!

Recently completed Lego structures are stored on the Lego table in the upstairs family room or on a bookshelf in the trio's bedroom. We traded out their old bookshelf for a larger bookshelf with more shelf space for books and Lego creations. Extra shelf space for Lego creations inspired Bentley and Jake to build, build, build. It appears that how ever much space we give the boys to display their Lego creations, they will fill it to overflowing.

Opa purchased two new Galaxy Squad sets which Jake and Bentley quickly built. Then opa downloaded an iPad Galaxy Squad game. Bentley and Jake have played the game every day since it was put on the iPads.


Viva and I are working on a pink and purple house of our own design. In addition Viva has a Chima set she is building. Sometimes she completes her Lego sets in a day or two, but other times she takes weeks.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Evan spits up A LOT. We try to keep it cleaned up, but sometimes we aren't quick enough to spot his latest mess.

 Isn't it incredible how cute babies are...even when they are disgusting?

Candy *Science*

Gobstoppers when put in a shallow dish of water will dissolve.  The fun part?  The gorgeous wedges of colors created.  They don't just blend together as the kids predicted they would.  Why not?  Because of all the wax in gobstopper colorants!  Yuck!  The wax is mixed in with the color and because it's not water soluble the colors will bump right up next to each other but then don't blend.  Creating a lovely color wheel!  Next up?  Trying vinegar and different temperatures of water to see if we get the same results.

On a side note, what IS science?  When I saw this experiment online I was intrigued because it looked fun and easy and bound to grab the kids attention.  I wasn't, however, completely certain that the experiment is all that "educational".  But upon further reflection I think that science experiments are ANYTHING that shows us how something works.  Which is a very broad scope of activities indeed!

(On another side note - forget the kids and the pretty bowl of candy - isn't my birthday TABLE beautiful?!? I love it!  :)

More Brother Bonding Moments

I love that Lincoln has a friend "all of his own" now.  Best early Christmas ever, right?!  Although... perhaps some Disney movies would have been a lower maintenance plan.  (Just kidding!!!!!).

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mt. Everest


It's not really Mt Everest, but that's what the boys are calling it. We haven't had any new snow for a week or more, but the 20" that fell the first half of the month really clogged our drainage ditches, so the lake that spans our road is still there. Opa called our homeowners association and asked them to work on the problem. The snow removal company came today and dug out the ditches and put the snow in the middle of our cul-de-sac. This is not something that is generally allowed, but because it's the end of snow season it was okay to do.

Bentley, Jake and Viva were quite thrilled when they saw the size of the snow pile and asked if they could go climb it. I said sure, but only with adult supervision. They asked opa to go out with them and they had a great time. Kara took Lincoln out for a short time, but he couldn't climb the snow pile very well. After dinner Bentley and Jake convinced their father to go out with them, so they could have a second go at it. It's not going to be around for very long, so they need to enjoy it while it's still here.

The culvert in the ditch is still clogged with ice, but we hope it will open up soon. Tomorrow a neighbor is going to bring out his sump pump and long hose to drain off part of the lake. When the lake is this big and deep, we have to take care with our lower clearance vehicles like Kara's van and opa's car. The van hasn't been out on the road for over a week. Mark saw several ducks on our lake!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crawling Machine!

It's tough to be the youngest of 5, particularly when you're a little boy and have 3 older brothers.  There's a lot of pressure!  A couple weeks ago Evan and I had a little chat and I talked to him about when his peep Lincoln started crawling. I told him that although there wasn't MUCH pressure, it was about time he get serious about forward movement.

He took my words to heart.

He started his pursuit of "real" crawling on April 10th, so that he had a nice (albeit slow) crawl with good form down pat for my birthday.  What a sweet baby!

What convinced him to crawl?  Magformers.  What baby wouldn't crawl for bright colorful awesome Magformers, right?  We told him that babies really ought not play with them.  Even though the magnets are completely enclosed it still doesn't seem like the very best of ideas, but he was determined!

He looks like a little robot machine when he crawls.  Very cute.  He started out pretty darn slow, but now a week later he is getting much faster.  I put him down in one place and he's across the room when I come back!  He is also very good at sitting and moving to a sitting position on his own.  Today I went upstairs, came back down, and found him sitting up under my desk watching the kids eat breakfast.  I'd left him 30 feet away from there in the living room.  Craaaaazy!

Favorite place to crawl?  Towards siblings and whatever they're doing!  He wants to be a part of the action and the fun!  Which has lead to a toy tussle or two with Lincoln.... :)

Bonus?  He started crawling during one of the weeks Daddy is around this month.  Extra points for baby!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Just A Little Snack

Lincoln has some favorite foods.  They include raisins and, of course, craisins if he can't get raisins... :).  He also loves cheeses of all varieties - cottage, string, and cheddar.  He has a milk addiction (is that just another form of cheese???).  He enjoys olives, pickles, and mustard by the spoonful (yuck!).  As for breads and delicious baked goods?  I'm still working on him!  I'm determined to turn him into a fan of my favorite things.

With most other foods he's of the "if it's on your plate I'll have some too" inclination.  He's not particularly obsessed with any of these other foods but always willing to try them!

P.S. - He doesn't always get to eat raisins by the heaping bowlful.  He brought me the container and I was trying to get a video of Evan laughing hysterically at Bentley... Lincoln was tugging on my leg, so I opened the container and told him to get himself a bowl.  Yikes!  He took advantage!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

30 Years Young

I had a birthday!  Here are 14 eyes all in one picture.  With this many people I think seeing all 14 eyeballs at once is impressive so we'll ignore the fact that a few of us look slightly deranged.

We started off celebrating a day early because Matt had a conference out of town and would be leaving early morning on my birthday day.   

We had traditional birthday fare - pizza and purple velvet cake!

A few weeks ago I discovered an International Holiday (who declared it so I am not sure) called "Drop Everything and Read" Day.  Which happens to be yearly on April 12th.  This sounded perfect, so I told the kids that in honor of my birthday we'd be celebrating D.E.A.R day yearly.  They were quite excited!

So on Friday we read and read some more!  We also went ice skating (well - the kids did - I went and watched with Grandma, Lincoln, and Evan), and we made a trip to Dairy Queen.  The service was more than abysmal, but Viva declared it the "best lunch ever".  So I suppose it was a win! 

 In the evening we had a game night and friends brought over 10 different types of cupcakes to celebrate with me.  It was fun!

Last, but not least, for my 30th my family all chipped in to help me get not one but TWO nice big gorgeous hardwood tables!  I have been lusting after one for months and months and scouring Craig's List to no avail.  With Evan getting old enough to eat at the table with us we were needing something a bit bigger.  Now I have a 10 foot table for the dining area and an 8.5 foot table for the school room. They are beautiful and make me happy every time I see them.  In as much as we allow "things" to make us happy, that is.  :)

Lincoln helping us pick chairs to go with the table:

Happy Birthday to Me!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Review: Supercharged Science

This spring I was given free access to Supercharged Science to try out and review their e-Science curriculum.  I was very excited when I learned the kids and I were selected to review this site!  Supercharged Science is yet another awesome program I had never heard of, and that I am now thrilled to have discovered.  It can be used as a standalone science program or as a compliment to many popular programs, there is a great chart provided by the vendor that helps you map out how to use their program to compliment your existing programs!

What exactly IS Supercharged Science?  Supercharged Science is a webpage full of hundreds and hundreds of science experiments and lectures, the vast majority of them having videos that go along with them.  It is a complete K-12 science curriculum and a syllabus for each study area is provided to go along with the experiments.  It was created by Aurora Lipper, a mechanical engineer by training and a passionate scientist by choice!  After teaching in colleges Aurora wanted to find a way to help children become more excited about science - so she decided to create her own set of experiments and curriculum!  More than 1000 videos later I'd say she's succeeded.

The first thing you notice, upon checking out Supercharged Science, is the love of science oozing out of Aurora.  She is having fun and you can tell.  My kids (and I!) are captivated by her videos because her enthusiasm is contagious and you can tell she's excited about what she's telling us and wants us to develop her same passion for science.  Even Lincoln would want to drag a chair up and watch the science videos with us.  I love this!  One of the best things about homeschooling is the ability to customize a curriculum for the kids that brings them the best I can find in each area.  I think that Supercharged Science is one of these great curriculums.  Can you find other websites with experiments online?  Of course!  What sets Supercharged Science apart is the personality "branded" WITH the curriculum.

Aurora hosts weekly calls to answer any questions you have about the experiments you're doing.  Leave a comment on an experiment and you'll get a reply from her.  Send an email with any type of question and you'll get an answer!  This is great customer service.  In addition to the great ways you can reach out to THEM, I like the emails that are sent to ME by Supercharged Science.  They remind me (nicely!) to get up and DO science!  Simply subscribing to a science site isn't enough.   Actual use is required.  It's friendly encouragement and just what I need.

So what did WE do?  We mostly focused on the unit about matter, but we also bounced around to motion, mechanics, and light.  We learned how to set up a scientific journal and looked at videos about the hovercraft we might create when the kids are a BIT older!  We created plasma in the microwave and we shot rockets off outside.  We learned more about density and solids and created gorgeous 7 layer liquid "art pieces".  We experimented with race cars (learning about acceleration)!  I like that Aurora recommends jumping in with experiments, and using them to create the "hook" - spark the interest first and then you have a child eager to learn why the experiment worked.  There is an area of the site just for awesome science experiments in addition to the 19 units of study available.  Life sciences, astronomy, alternative energy, electricity, electronics... this site is comprehensive.  Definitely something is bound to jump out at your kids and probably at you too.

I always have good intentions of doing science - but it doesn't actually happen on a regular basis.  It seems to be the subject that is easily tossed to the side by me when life gets busy, and unfortunately life is quite almost always busy!  I really like the idea that Supercharged Science is "plug and play" for kids.  Because of the age of my children they did need more hands on supervision than older kids but the site still provides us with easy to implement science fun.  I can use the material lists to see what we'll need ahead of time - and, luckily, most of what we need is either already at home or easily available.  Then I just need to find the time to watch the videos, DO the experiments, and let curiosity lead us from there.

I like that there are quizzes and tests provided you can use to test for comprehension.  We didn't use these because the kiddos are still so young, but it is nice to know they are there!  In the same vein I like  knowing that the instruction provided by this site meets and exceeds state standards for science education.  That's an extra bonus!

I also enjoy the webpage.  It is constantly updated with new and interesting science articles.  Things I can discuss with the kids, and items newsworthy and noteworthy, curated for me.  I like that on the side of the webpage you always see a "streaming" view that lists all the new comments being made all over the site.  This provides a real sense of community and led me down many rabbit trails, clicking through to different experiments that I wanted to learn more about after seeing comments left by others who had tried them and reported back on their success/failure/and variations.  What fun!

If you want a science program that is engaging, hands on for kids, and as interactive/intensive as you want it to be - I would definitely recommend trying out Supercharged Science.  It's a monthly subscription and you can cancel at any time.  Access to the K-8 content is $37/month, and goes up to $57/month for access to the high school content.  When you first subscribe you are given access to seven units and then more open up each month.  I suspect this is because the full content of the site may overwhelm you and then you'll find yourself mired down in deciding what to do first!  If you're interested in doing the units in a different order than they are unfolding for you - you can email Aurora and ask for access to the units you're interested in.

Want to try it out but not completely sure?  Supercharged Science has a 30 day money back guaruntee so you can fully explore the site and see if it's something you love.  Give it a try!  If you'd like to check out a sampling of activities from the site without even registering you can go here.

My only "dissatisfaction" after using this program?  A sense of irritation that Aurora lives in California and I live in Alaska.  I would love to send my kids to her e-science summer camps.  Luckily for me there is also a virtual version of e-camp on the website, but I'm sure the in person experience would be quite fabulous to experience.

Want to learn more about Supercharged Science?  You can check out some awesome reviews from many other members of the This Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Reading Time!

Lincoln LOVES to read.  Partly because most little kids do, and partly, I am sure, because he sees the behavior modeled by his older siblings!  In the time honored tradition of small children everywhere he loves to have the same book read over and over and over and over.  He's a bit crazier than some toddlers though - sometimes he is so anxious to read the book over that he doesn't even let you get to the last page before he wants to start it over!

He wanders around the house holding a book (or two) and repeating "read, read, read" to whomever is near!  Sometimes he'll take his book to one person, convince them to read it once or twice, and then move on to the next person with the same book and ask to have it read again and again (and again)!  He also likes to provide lots of commentary along the way about the book!

Current favorite books include Goodnight Gorilla, The Yes Yes No No Book, Head to Toes, Perfect Piggies (we like Sandra Boynton!), Where's the Cat, Bear on a Bike, Richard Scary's Car Book, Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You? and lift the flap style of books.  He does not, of course, limit himself to these books!

We, of course, are thrilled to have another reader in the house.  :)