Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Bash

As a "boring" adult, I think one of the perks of traveling over vacation is that I don't have to worry so much about all the candy and costumes that kids love.  My children aren't exactly without dress-ups, but something about Halloween (marketing?!) makes them want all sorts of crazy things in the way of costumes.  I'm glad to short cut that by a trip to Mexico!

The kids love the fun in the sun, but have lamented to me that it's "sad" to miss Halloween.  I remind them that they don't exactly suffer from a sugar ban the rest of the year.  Also?  The resort has a big Halloween bash.  Lastly?  They had a Halloween bash with Grandma Karen and Grandpa Tim before we headed out.  By all reports it was a big success, with game prizes like glow in the dark meat cleavers.  And, of course, lots of candy!

P.S. - yes, yes.  We have a 5th child.  He stayed home and worked on packing with Mommy.  Poor Evan!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fancy Dining

I'm sure more will be coming on our blog about the great new music wave that has swept the household up, but in the mean time... here is Evan, being serenaded during his dinner meal by Opa the Great.  Lucky boy, right?!  I think he liked it!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Artist At Work

Genevieve at work.  Her favorite spot to create, for whatever reason, is the mudroom.  She goes in there, closes the door, and we don't see her for hours.  I guess she likes to be alone while the creative juices are flowing?  :)  Lately she has been making "snack pouches" - she is busily making enough for Evan and Lincoln to have one each for each of our 3 flights as we head out for vacation.

P.S. - like her new dress?  I told her she looks like an angel.  But given her (sometimes) non angelic behavior we rehearsed, before church, what she might say if someone told her she looked "just like an angel".  :)  Sure enough, one daring adult did dare to complement her.  She looked at her brother, (probably wagered he'd tattle if she was ornery), and went with "Thank you!  You're very sparkly too"!  :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Table Love

Lincoln seems to think that he belongs on TOP of the table and not in the chairs.  He likes to sit in the middle of it when we're playing games or just when he wants to hang out... and drink a bottle?  Maybe this is where Evan got the idea that tables are for climbing on... hmmm.... :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Viva's Card Creation

Genevieve can often be found with construction paper, crayons, scissors, and tape.  She loves to come up with custom creations.  She's always very excited when there is a birthday and she goes into bday card production mode.  :)  Here is one of the cards she made Evan for his birthday (she tells me Lincoln helped her... !):

First there was the envelope that the card was folded into a tiny little square to fit into:

And then the gorgeous card.  Two sided, of course.

This side is a bit hard to see but it's a lovely stick drawing of Evan:

And then the full page picture on the back, a lovely landscape with mountains and clouds and trees:

Lastly?  Two more card offerings:

I'm sure Evan appreciated his big sister's thoughtfulness.  :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Evan on the Move

When you have four older siblings (who are not that much older), there are many opportunities to take advantage of distracted adults. Such an opportunity happened Thursday evening after I got Evan dressed for bed. I gave him a new diaper and put on his sleeper. I handed him off to Kara (not literally, but figuratively!) to make his bottle and get him to bed. Then I left and went upstairs.

I sat down at my computer in my bedroom. B & J came in to take a shower in the master bathroom. I worked away. I was in the zone! Next thing I heard was shrieking from Bentley. "You shouldn't be in here!" I ignored him until I heard the word Evan. HUH? Wasn't Evan downstairs with him mother? Or better yet in his bedroom going through his nighttime routine?

No. He was not. He was sitting on the floor of the shower getting thoroughly wet. Score one for him. He had left his mom, climbed the stairs, walked within inches of my chair as I sat my computer, and then climbed in the shower. 

Evan enjoyed his shower with his brothers and then was redressed by his mom and put to bed. (Kara claimed the debacle was my fault for not shutting the gate to upstairs. I believe it was her fault for not making his bottle right away which was what I thought was happening so I intentionally left the gate open.)

Evan is very good-natured unless you are uncooperative when it comes to one of his strong desires. Earlier that evening Kara was with the trio at karate and Mark and I were in charge. I left the main floor to go downstairs to cut some fleece to run a quick test in the washer on it. Evan discovered I was gone and he could hear me, so he went to the gate and started shrieking. (He didn't want me, he wanted downstairs.) Mark took him away from the gate, but he went right back and continued his assault on our ears. He kept it up until I gave in and let him come downstairs. He immediately returned to his usual sunny nature. (Part of the problem was the time of day it was. Near bedtime he is not as even-tempered.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Review: Bridgeway Academy

This fall Bentley has been taking an online class from Bridgeway Academy.  We were provided with access to this class for the purposes of review!  The class is a study of the Medieval Ages which uses the Magic Tree House books as a starting spring board.  To be more exact, our class was entitled "Social Studies Through the Magic Treehouse - Middle Ages" and is appropriate for the 1st-5th grade crowd.

The Magic Tree House Courses with Bridgeway Academy are 9 weeks long and cost $145.  This works out to a bit more than $16 per hour long class, which I think is a cost in line with other classes we've done.

The verdict?  Bentley had fun!

Bridgeway Academy utilizes Jigsaw Meeting Center, which was easy for us to set up.  Every week we get an email that our "meeting" is setup for the upcoming week, and on the morning of the class we log in and meet up with the ~20 other students, and teacher, in our group.  On occasion the class suffers from hiccups due to technology issues with kids and audio not working correctly.  This slows down the group once in a while but it is more of a minor than a major irritation.  Although technology can be bumpy, the pros more than make up for it.  The ability to go to "school" right from your home?  Awesome!  The fact the classes are "recorded" and you can go back and rewatch them, or check them out if for some reason you have to miss?  Also very cool!

I like that Bentley can do this on his own.  I help him print out some homework assignments, and initially showed him how to use the headset, but other than that it was simple for my 7 year old to participate on his own.

During class they chat, go through slides, participate in group "whiteboard" type of brainstorming together, and watch videos about the Middle Ages.  There is a nice range of material, everything from how people lived and what they ate to the reason for some of the wars and how the justice system worked.  I for one am glad I live now as opposed to then!

Bridgeway is very organized.  We received a syllabus before class began giving us a great outline of what was coming up.  This made it easy to incorporate extra study of the classroom materials into our other schoolwork time.  There were homework assignments most weeks but they weren't complex or overly involved.  They were easy to complete in less than an hour.  Much of the homework related to the grande finale assignment - the generation of a Medieval Castle, made out of materials of your choosing!  If you're thinking that our castle is made out of Legoes you are guessing right.

Ms. Kathi, the instructor of our class, is great with kids.  She keeps the class moving along and does a good job of answering questions and presenting the content in a dynamic and engaging way.  There was a positive happy vibe to the group - all the time.  I never have complaints out of Bentley in regards to waking up "early" on Monday morning to participate - which says a lot about the class, in my opinion!

You do need to have a headset you can use to listen and talk with.  I think the added element of audio communication with your class adds in a fun way to the experience for Bentley.

You can check out all of the fun 9 week classes available through Bridgeway, here.  The offer classes in all different subjects and for older students they offer classes certified to provide highschool credit.  Bridgeway is an accredited school and you can read more about what that means here.  The 9 week classes offered are called Learning Labs.  Bridgeway also has a huge number of semester long classes.  You could easily lose track of time looking at all the offering on their site.  I will be keeping them in mind for classes as my kids get older!

Interested in learning more about homeschool learning made easy with Bridgeway Academy?  Members of TOS's review crew tried out a number of different classes, for all ages.  Read their reviews here.

Pattern Blocks

Viva got out the pattern blocks two weeks ago and made a beautiful pattern of her own design. She asked me to take a photo of it. Jake then joined her and made a design of his own.

 A few days later when Grandma Vicki was visiting the pattern blocks came out again.

I'm not sure who worked on the mosaic design below. It was on the table one morning, just like magic! (I think maybe the children worked on it with Grandma Vicki? Or not?)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lincoln & His Pal

Here are two recent shots of Lincoln and his pal:

Evan visits with great-grandma, too, but he's a squiggle worm and doesn't stay very long on her lap. He climbs from it onto the table and gets into trouble. He and she have conversations while he sits at the table in his high chair. She makes funny noises and he either laughs or imitates her. They are quite the pair.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Injury, Injury, Injury

All of us went through it, but few of us remember it: That first month or two of constant bumps and bruises after we started walking. Evan has had bruises or scratches on his face almost constantly for the past three weeks. First he took a header into a wooden stool at the museum and sported a very dark bruise on his cheekbone for over a week. 

Next he fell while carrying a sippy cup and acquired a very impressive abrasion on his eye lid. We were concerned he'd hurt his eye, but fortunately the eye lid went down before the eye was damaged. The sippy cup was not one of those with a rigid straw. The straw was very soft and bendy, but there was a hard plastic piece that slid down over the straw. It seemed a safe design, but it was not.

Just a couple of days ago he was at it again. This time he toppled into a toy bin that has a divider down the middle. He was trying to reach a hand bell at that bottom of the bin. His nose landed on the divider. He looks like he lost a fight.

A week ago Lincoln took a flying leap off a couch and did a facer into the window sill. He didn't bit his tongue off (thankfully!), but he did cut into it with his sharp little teeth. It took us a day to get a look at the true injury--until then we were just guessing at where the blood came from: Teeth? Gums? Cheek? Tongue?

There are so many ways for little boys to mess up their pretty faces. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Daisies & Playgrounds

Every other Monday Viva has Daisy Girl Scouts. I like to take the boys with me to pick her up so everyone can enjoy the school playground. Without an excuse to be there we don't visit the playground very often even though it is only two blocks from our home.  

A few weeks ago it was a beautiful fall afternoon when we picked her up. It was delightful to be outside. Last week a frigid wind was blowing and it was an endurance test for me; the children were happy to stay as long as I was willing to let them. Unfortunately Monday is also karate day so we have a limited window of time.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Let Me!

Evan is at the age when he prefers to feed himself. He refuses to open his mouth when someone tries to feed him. He grabs the spoon. He knocks the spoon away. When allowed to feed himself, it's usually a very mess endeavor. It takes quite a while to clean up his face, his clothes, the table, the bib, the floor, the high chair, great-grandma's walker (when he can reach it!). *sigh*

Here he is after he was cleaned up. The yogurt gave his hair some extra body.

Great-Granny Gets an iPhone

The kids are enjoying helping Great-Grandma with the games on her new iPhone.  :)  We (mostly my mother) are teaching her how to text and talk to Siri.  Never a dull moment around here!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Another Month, Another Museum Trip

The highlights?  A random snake and the Alaska Watercolor Exhibit!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Grandma Vicki comes to play!

Last week Grandma Vicki came to play for a few days!  The timing worked out with her school schedule for her to hop on a plane to come celebrate Evan's first birthday, belatedly, and we're sure glad she did!  The kids kept her very busy and (I think!) a good time was had by all.  Come back soon, Grandma!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Best Bed Mates

Lincoln has been hanging out in my bed at night.  He's had a cold which turned into a horrible cough.  He bit his tongue and it was really bugging him for a few nights.  The list of excuses goes on and on (rather too far, in his Father's opinion!).  Sometimes I tip toe him back to his bed once he's asleep but he's almost always back before it's time to get up in the morning.

What about Evan, you ask?  If he was willing to stay in the bed safely he'd be welcome to join in on the fun!  He's still at the age where he's just as happy to crawl straight off the edge though, which makes for a rather nerve wracking night of restless sleep on my part!

Anyway, back to Lincoln and me (and Matt).  It's a king bed, we upgraded last year, so there's plenty of room.  Even if our little friend insists on sleeping sideways so he can head butt one parent while kicking the other.  :)  The other night we had a new bed mate though - Bentley!

A quality selfy, courtesy of the "most used phone in the world" - or so the iPhone commercials tell me:

We've had high winds lately and Bentley is not a fan.  Not at all.  The wind whistles through the trees and against the windows, and despite my assurances to Mr. B that it's just the wind singing, he is not a happy camper.  It's become a bit of a power issue between Bentley and Jake.  When Jake is feeling magnanimous he lets Bentley sleep on his bed while the wind howls.  But if he's feeling a bit ornery?  He denies that privilege.  So Lincoln and I made room for Bentley.  It took a while for them to get to sleep because of the giggles, but that's okay.  We can always sleep in - yet another benefit to saying no to the yellow bus!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

First He Walked...

and now he climbs and runs!  This baby is a TROUBLE MAKER!  Maybe I'm simply getting forgetful in my old age (it is possible), but I don't remember any of my older children being such persistent little chair climbers.  You take him down and he climbs back up.  He stands on chairs.  He climbs on tables. He screams if he tries the wrong high chair and he can't quite get his leg up on the table.  He screams if the chair is pushed under the table and there's no room for him to squeeze on.  It's almost funny.  Except for the part where he attacks Lego sets, papers, and colored pencils on the tables.  Yikes!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Game Time!

One of the (many) advantages of a live in Nanny (what I tell my friends I have!! haha!!) is someone plays games with the kids on a regular basis.  I have intentions to play games but it doesn't happen very often at all.  Luckily for the kids Grandma is a great sport and plays many games with them.

I *hear* that by playing games kids will learn sportsmanship.  I'd say some of mine (Jake!) still have a bit of learning to do.  To be fair, it's not just Jake.  It's Jake on a regular basis but anyone of them might lose it depending on the day!  So we keep at it - and eventually they'll learn to have fun and keep their cool even when they don't win - right?  I hope so!!

P.S. - Notice the Halloween garland at the top of the picture?  I want credit for being a *good* Mom this year and getting out the Halloween decor.  Owning it isn't quite enough if you don't use it... drat!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Comic Junkie

Genevieve, as we've mentioned, likes to read the Sunday comics.  A few weeks ago she discovered comic books!  We were early to dance and they had some Garfield books on the bookshelf.  She fell in love.  I was a bit amazed at how enthralled she was.  I was never a comic book girl myself... :)

Anyway, she's been begging me to stay late at dance so she can read Garfield and I have not been complying.  A better solution?  Grandma tracked down some comic books at the library and the used book store for our Viva.  And she's captivated!   

She laughs to herself and then she'll say: "Listen to THIS!!! .... ".  It's cute.  :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oreo Face


Evan is also a fan of Twinkies, which I am thankful for.  I was very excited to see Twinkies back on the shelf at the store recently, and it was nice to have someone to share them with when I brought them home.  :)  The older children won't eat Twinkies - weirdos!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Future Hallmark Card Writer

The kids all enjoy creating birthday cards; some of them are very prolific... :).  Jake isn't usually as big into this activity as his siblings, but apparently he felt inspired by Evan's birthday.  I love his card!

The front was tastefully plain and simple.  Plain green.  But on the inside?  Pure gold:

And the back?

I can hear him saying it in his super enthusiastic voice, so full of passion, when I read it.  We're lucky to have Jake in our family!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Yellow Belts!

Karate update!  Bentley and Jake tested for their yellow belts this past week and passed!  We had two very excited boys around here.  :)

They're already excitedly discussing the next upcoming belt tests, and practicing katas they'll need to know to test for their orange and blue belts.  Way to go, boys!

Viva, you ask??  Well... she told me she wasn't ready to test.  She does assure me, however, that she plans to work on her katas and test *sometime*.  We'll see.  :)

In other karate news, Matt has picked up the class with the kids.  Yay for fun family activities!