Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Baby Drummer

I know, I know... another day and another drum picture.  But, seriously, we love these Remo drums!

I don't know if Evan is particularly musical or if it's just that he's the only baby of mine who has had access to drums - but he loves drums.  He loves anything involving waving his hands, actually!  When he wants to be picked up he sits down and waves his arms over and over - pick me up, pick me up.  He loves to clap.  When you push up to the dinner table he drums out a rhythm on it too.  And, of course, he plays the drums: solo and with others.   He's got rhythm!

Photo Dump (1 of 2)

Time again to clean out my photo files of great photos I haven't used in a post. Here they are:

Lately the children don't spend a lot of time on the iPad, but occasionally they play a game.

"I could walk, if I wanted to."

This is great-grandma's new chair. Kara's chairs finally arrived!

Jake is a great kid.

Viva and Jake working a puzzle together. Isn't that sweet?

Chores, chores, chores. They never end.
Viva in blue and green, her new favorite colors.

Evan playing with opa's computer cord. "No, baby!"

Jake doing what Jake loves to do: building.

Viva's live dress up doll. (I'm not allowed to put his name on this photo.)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Another Week, Another Art Field Trip!

Two weeks ago we headed out to Potter's Marsh for our art class.  As usual, I wasn't really looking forward to the excursion - three easels, three chairs, three sets of paints and paint brushes and water jars and cleaning clothes.... !  But, also as usual, once it was all done I could concede that it was a good experience and the kids had a great time.  :)

I like to think that having three children close in age means I experience "time economies" - something that you would do with just one kid you have the chance to do for three, so you get three times the return on your time... or something like that, at least!!  But sometimes it works the other way too!  Something that would seem relatively *easy* with one kid?  Seems like so much more work with three!  That's been my experience with painting, at least.  I'm still working on my attitude.  

In the mean time?  I tell myself it's worth it because I have three mini Picassos on my hand.  Not that I'm biased or anything!

Monday, July 29, 2013

From My Vehicle

I like to take pictures while driving.  Do you think that's safer than texting while driving?  Hmmmm....

It's a beautiful summer out there!  Our mountains are so pretty and green, and we have gorgeous fluffy white clouds and blue, blue skies.

The weather continues to be gorgeous.  70s and 80s and no clouds in sight.  We have had a very warm and dry July.  It is certainly different than last summer!

My children, true Alaskans, are complaining that it's too hot to go outside.  Haha!  I kick them out anyway.  Lame excuse!

Besides, if Alaskan folklore to be believed, fall is *almost* here - the fireweed will soon be bloomed out!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Opa Is...Damaged

On Memorial Day weekend (eight weeks ago) opa climbed on a dining room chair to look at the shelf in the garden window in the kitchen. He fell and tipped the chair over and ended up entangled with it. He sprained his ankle. After two weeks he went to a doctor. He got a boot cast to wear. After ten more days he had excruciating pain in his hip. He went to his chiropractor for sciatica (pain in his hip caused by compression of his spine). He went back to the doctor. He visited another doctor. He got blood pressure medication. (Don't ask!) He visited his chiropractor. He visited the foot doctor. He got an MRI. He has a herniated disc in his spine. He got a spinal epidural. He's in physical therapy. He's a little better but he can't bike, hike, swim, mow the yard, do chores, etc.

Opa has learned a lot about pain and how hard it is to manage. It's hard to figure out what is causing the pain. It's hard to find proper medication to make the pain go away. It's hard to think when you're in pain.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Summer Fun Continues

July started out a little cold, but then things improved and we've had another great month of summer. The children have been busy inside and outside. The summer is passing too quickly! We need more fun in the pool, more camp outs, more biking, more playground time--just more time outdoors! (To be fair Matt has done a very good job of taking the childen biking and to the playground and even camping. I'm the one who hasn't been outside enough with them this summer.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Camp Out!

Last weekend Matt took Bentley and Jake out for a camping trip.  Despite it being the middle of July, this is the first camping trip of the year - the summer is going by too fast and the weekends have been busy for us!

From all reports they had a grand time.  Hanging out with fishing poles at the lake, playing soccer with some girls at the camp site, and eating smores of course!

This weekend Matt plans to take FOUR of my children out to the woods.  Scary, right?!  I will cross all my fingers and toes that they are all on their very best behavior for Daddy and that they have a grand time together in a tent.  :)  Matt's been out shopping - steak, bratwurst, hot dogs, corn on the cob, mushrooms, two types of chips, three types of cereal, chocolate milk... smores and reeses smores.  They go camping for the food, I think.   

I'd consider it a *break*, BUT - the packing up and the unpacking when they get back?  Never quite as quick and easy as it ought to be, or as it seems it ought to be in MY head!!  And this is despite the fact we have a number of camping tubs and have down what we can to streamline the process.  Crazy!

It's all good though - it's about the fun and traditions and memories made!

Comics Fan

Genevieve is our resident comic lover.  Every Sunday she races for the paper, after church, and studiously reads the comics section.  Sometimes she chuckles.  Sometimes she says "listen to this"!  Sometimes she asks questions like "what are swine, and why would you give them pearls"?

We're not completely certain what she gets out of the comics, but apparently something or she wouldn't keep going back.  :)

Lincoln's Train Obsession

When Lincoln decides he wants something, it's very difficult to distract him. The children's train set has three battery-operated engines. They are fun little toys, but if you don't treat them right you will break them. When Jake and Bentley were Lincoln's age they were only allowed to have the battery operated engines when they were closely supervised because if the engine runs off the track and encounters an obstacle (wall, furniture, whatever) it will spin its wheels until the tread wears off and/or the motor burns out.

Lincoln loves the battery operated engines. He calls them "train track". I can't convince him to drop the word track. I keep the engines up high on a shelf, not with the other train engines. Once he clued in where they were, he started bugging me regularly to give them to him. He doesn't care if the track is set up or not. He just wants to play with engines. At first I was firm. "No, you are too young." He would howl and I would ignore him. Then one day I gave in. (The day he got stung by a yellow jacket.) Needless to say I am getting lots of visits from Lincoln demanding to play with the engines. I don't have the energy to fight with him or to supervise him. The engines are going to have to survive without my oversight.

Jake & Viva

Jake reading:

Viva reading:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's My Birthday!

It's my birthday and I'm writing my own birthday post which is not the tradition of this blog, but it's good to shake things up. I'm a lucky woman. I have a good life. I have my health. I have enough wealth to do the things I really want to. I'm married to a good man. I have a wonderful child who has provided me with five wonderful grandchildren. My life is easy in that I don't have to work to help provide for my family. I live with my mother which makes it simple to help her when she needs help. I don’t have to worry about her like I would if she lived on her own. My son-in-law is a good husband and father, so my daughter is provided for. I live in a beautiful, spacious home with all the people I love most here with me. I have a few friends, but not enough time to spend with them. I have a twin sister which is a blessing most people don't have. I have good food to eat, good books to read, and good hobbies to pursue. I have a very good life. I'm off to enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

First Yellow Jacket Sting

Lincoln got stung on his big toe by a yellow jacket last Friday afternoon. He wasn't wearing shoes, but he had socks on. He was outside on the deck off the breakfast nook where unbeknownst to us a colony of yellow jackets had started building a nest just six inches from the door. When he came to the door to come inside the yellow jacket was on his sock and then he got stung and started screaming. Kara was holding Evan, so I pulled Lincoln's sock off. Kara called the doctor's office for advice. We tried to put a baking soda paste on his toe, but he was uncooperative. We tried to keep his toe in cold water, but he fought us. He cried and cried and cried while his mommy comforted him. He did not have an allergic reaction.

Here is a photo of sad Lincoln, but it wasn't taken that day. We were too busy comforting the tyke to take photos.

Review: Homeschool Programming Kid Coder Web Series

We were recently excited to receive the newest course available from Homeschool Programming - the Kid Coder Web Series, which just came out in May!  The 2nd semester of the program isn't quite available yet, so we have only used the first semester so far.  This program is designed for 4th grade on up, although it can be used with younger children, like mine, if they have adults around to help them.

One of the *best* (okay, one of the MANY) great things about homeschooling is the chance to completely taylor your kids education.  In addition to the necessary basics I can chose the extras that I think are going to be useful and fun.  Computer programming definitely falls in this category of useful and fun, in my book.  The Homeschool Programming company was created by passionate parents (who happen to homeschool) who couldn't find the material that they envisioned when they went searching for a great program for their kids to use to learn coding.  I myself have done some research on available programs (having an IT degree myself and thinking it an important study area) and have also found the offerings for kids to be few and not that awesome - so I can attest to the fact that there was a void to be filled in this area!  Homeschool Programming was born, and now has classes in Visual Basic, Web Design, C+, and Java.

Why buy a program, you say?  Aren't there tons of free resources online to help you learn how to build a webpage?!  Yes, there are, of course.  But the Kid Coder Web Series looks to be thorough, engaging, and enjoyable.  It is designed just for kids (but definitely useable by teens and adults) and will give them a great foundation to branch out from.  I often feel, online, that it's unfortunately true that you get what you pay for when it comes to the slew of freebies out there.

Notes & Thoughts:
  • The program focuses on HTML and CSS.  I think CSSs are a little more complicated than basic HTML, but they're everywhere so I'm glad that they are introduced early on in the course material.
  • Each semester is made up of chapters which are subdivided into small and managable lessons.  It is easy to complete a chapter a week, without feeling like you're working TOO hard!  There are 4 lessons within a chapter and then a chapter review and activity.  So the course lends itself to daily use.
  • Although the main focus is on the technical aspects, there are also sections that discuss branding and content generation.  I like that this focus on marketing is also included, it provides a more well rounded introduction to how to design/work with the Internet.
  • Optional DVDs are available if you have a learner that works better with that style of instruction, but they don't replace the book.  The lessons on the DVD provide a nice intro to the chapter, but you'll still need the student manual.  You can see some demos of their videos to get a good feel for them, here.
  • The student book is engaging but definitely not dumbed down for children.  It is chock full of LOTS of information, and it may take your kids some time to process it all!  There are very clear instructions, and lots of pictures where needed, but there is also a lot of content to absorb.
  • The class consists of two semesters of material, it is designed to be completed during the space of one school year if you pace it at 3 to 4 hours a week.
  • You, as the parent, do not need ANY background in web programming in order to use this.  A full solutions manual is provided, and the material is taught directly at the child.
  • Homeschool Programming provides prompt and helpful customer support for any questions you might have.  You probably won't need help, however, because the text even walks your kids through how to troubleshoot their projects when something isn't working right.
  • I like that it's more than just a basic intro to HTML.  The scope starts with what the Internet is, why you care about learning how to code a page, and then walks you through a project "from the ground up", so to speak!
  • The software that comes with the program can be used on both Mac and Windows machines, and the developers tested their sites with 4 of the big main name browsers out there.  If you have an older machine you can check out the prerequs for your system, here.  If your child is younger, like mine, it might also be a good idea to review the prerequs for what your child should already know how to do on the computer before starting this, here!
  • I think we'll be going through this material more than once.  We've been trying it out, and doing the activities, but there are just so many ideas in it that are completely new to Bentley - I'm sure that if we come back to it again in a year or two we'll internalize (both of us) even more of the material.
  • The material gets harder as you get farther into the book.  I'm anticipating that although semester one (Beginning Web Coder) was doable with Bentley, we might want to wait a bit longer before coming back to semester two (Advanced Web Design, which covers Javascript, for example!).
  • I hope you'll check this company out if you're looking for a way to add some computer science fun into your curriculum.  I'm excited to have discovered this company and look forward to purchasing their other products as my kids get a bit older.
  • I hope you'll check this company out if you're looking for a way to add some computer science fun into your curriculum.  I'm excited to have discovered this company and look forward to purchasing their other products as my kids get a bit older!
The Kid Coder Web Series comes with 2 semesters of material (a student text, solution guide, and activity starters) which you can purchase seperately for $70 without videos or $85 with them or as a package, available in August, for $120 without the video components or $145 with them.

Check them out on Facebook, here.  They often run some great deals on their materials so it's worth checking around before you buy.

Other members of The Old Schoolhouse's Review Crew also received Kid Coder Web Series, as well as other fun products from Homeschool Programming.  Check out their reviews here for more great thoughts and opinions.

H2Oasis Fun

On Monday we went to our local indoor waterpark - H2Oasis.  I had promised the kids we could go this week (a bit of a bribe for good behavior), but when our weather started turning unfashionably scorching again I tried to convince them we should wait.  After all - Anchorage weather in the 70s and 80s?  That means we should be having a outdoor pool and sprinkler day, right?!

But alas young minds are stubborn and when they have expectations they don't want to be delayed (or denied, for that matter!).  So off we went - Bentley, Jake, Viva and I!  Lincoln and Evan stayed home and enjoyed a peaceful afternoon and some outdoor relaxation with Grandma.

I learned, when checking on the schedule, that our local H2Oasis is the 5th largest indoor waterpark in the nation.  I thought that was impressive (as well as improbable - it's not THAT big), but my mother pointed out to me that most waterparks are outdoors.  It's just us cold weather states that favor indoor parks.  I think she has a point.

Anyway off we went!  H2Oasis is QUITE expensive in my opinion.  Luckily for us we had some free passes from a friend whose family helped build the place.  :)  Even though the passes were free to *justify* using them I figured we should stay a while and get our $$$s worth.  My goal was to last for 2 hours.  I, however, impressed myself.  We stayed for almost 4 hours!

That is a loooong time!  It is hot, and the kids kept me moving the whole time!  And I'm a wimp, I will freely admit with no shame!

I'd share pictures of my adventuring cherubs, but my phone died on the way to the park.  Poor planning on my part.  Here's a shot of part of the place though, stolen from their site:

Do you see that blue strip across the top of the picture?  That's the super soaker slide "thrill" ride.  Last time we went to the water park, in the spring for a school event, I couldn't convince any of the kids to try it.  Way way too scary, they said.  This time?  Bentley walked in the door and declared he wanted to go on the BIG ride!  (It's way way way too scary how quickly children grow up when you're not looking.)  

The ride starts up high at the top of the building in a corner.  To get up there you have to take quite a few steep wet stairs - three flights of them, and not normal size flights!  It's enough to give an over anxious parent a heart attack, watching small kids try and climb these in a rush...  as if keeping track of three children, albeit ones who can swim, in a fun filled water park isn't enough!  The ride uses a double man intertube, and you have to cart that up to the top of the building from the bottom - yay, a work out!

Even better?  The kids aren't large enough to ride this 2 man ride together - so I, super Mommy, got to ride the ride over and over.  10 times?  More?  I lost count!

We had a great time.  Million trips around the lazy river?  Check.  Thrill rides?  Check.  Lots of goofing around?  Check, check.

We all slept well when we finally made it home.  It was a fun afternoon, but exhausting!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lincoln & Company

A couple of weeks ago when I was reviewing recent posts (so that I don't post any of the same photos or topics as Kara) I noticed a disturbing trend. It seemed to me that almost every post featured Lincoln. He was either the main topic or the topic along with Evan or he simply snuck his way into the post through sheer cuteness. He was definitely the star of the blog. I pointed this out to Kara and told her we needed to make it more balanced. Her reply? "We could rename the blog Lincoln and Company." Not what I had in mind! I tried to appeal to opa who takes a lot of the photos that inspire blog posts--"Quit focusing on Lincoln!"

Sure, two year olds are cute, adorable, addictive, and wonderful, but we also have a nine month old and twin six year olds and the most awesome seven year old. Unfortunately, they don't do as many cute things. They ARE cute, but they don't DO cute things to inspire photos and blog posts.

     *****     *****         *****

P.S. As I finished writing this post Lincoln arrived in my bedroom to harass me about his latest obsession: the battery operated trains. This, of course, prompted me to take a photo and to write a post about this obsession of his. Perhaps Lincoln is the star of the family blog because he does a better job of marketing himself? The older trio are off on their own pursuing their interests, but Lincoln is always near us (it's our job to keep track of him), so we see every cute thing that he does and we record a lot of them. Perhaps I should spend time next week following the trio around with a camera and notebook. I'm sure I'd get some great blog material.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Art Class Update

The children's acrylic painting class has been meeting outdoors (en plein air) for the past month. I went with Kara and the kids the first week they had an lesson outdoors because we were unsure how far from the parking lot the group would be meeting. Would they need to haul the two big wooden easels in the red wagon down the trail along with three camp chairs, the big container of painting supplies, and the third (much smaller) travel easel? No. Alaska has so much gorgeous outdoor scenery that it's not necessary to hike somewhere to find a delightful view. The lesson was in an area right next to the parking lot. Good choice!

The lesson went well for the boys, but Viva wasn't cooperative with me (no photo), the teacher (she ignored all her suggestions), or her mom (she refused Kara's suggestions that she reform). After some discussions at home and a very long time out (the entire next lesson), Viva has been more cooperative. The last three lessons have gone well for all three children. Bentley is a fast painter, so he can get the entire project completed in the time allotted. Jake is not given to speed in most things that he does, so he doesn't always get the details done in his paintings. (The goal with plein air painting it to do the entire painting while viewing nature in its grandeur. Taking a photo and finishing the artwork elsewhere is not acceptable. I heard the teacher explaining this to a mother who was trying to slip out early with her daughter.)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Busy Weekend

On Friday afternoon Matt took Bentley and Jake out camping and fishing. They were very excited to go. Viva could not go because she had a dance camp on Saturday at noon. I spent most of Saturday out looking at longarm quilting machines. (They are a big investment, so I need to do some real research, not just online!) While Kara was chauffeuring Viva, Mark was left home alone with the two youngest. What did they do?

They played while opa took photos!

Here are some other photos opa took recently of the duo.