Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Return of Nap Time! And Bed Time!

I am quite proud of myself.  This past month it has become obvious that Lincoln is only two and still needs naps, despite his intense desire to do whatever his older siblings are doing.  I've humored for a while due to 1) his cuteness 2) my tiredness 3) my distraction.  But the evenings get awfully long for little people who don't nap.  So it's back to nap time we've gone.  We had to ease into it, and for a little while it was a bit of a trick getting out of the room after laying him down - there was a day or two he screamed and screamed.  But now?  Happy boy is starting to return due to healthy amounts of sleep.  Although he does still say "no way, not me!" whenever the topic of nap is introduced!

With nap time conquered I went crazy and decided to reclaim my evening by instituting an earlier bedtime for Lincoln too.  Lincoln likes to hang out with the older kids in the evening after Evan goes to bed, and it's nice to have him there for story time and more - but once he gets TOO tired then it's even harder to get him to bed, and it's WAY past the time of night Evan wants a screaming friend thrown in his room!  So Lincoln has become rather accustomed to my bed.  And he is cute - but he wasn't sleeping well.  So now he's back in his bed, going to bed earlier... and life is good!   (Even if Lincoln and Evan do *chat* for an hour before sleeping.  I'll call it bonding time.... )

Monday, December 30, 2013

First Quilt

Bentley, Jake, and Viva worked together on a lap quilt to give Grandma Vicki for Christmas. I pulled out some of my Kaffe Fassett fabrics and the children each chose five or six to use in the quilt. I ironed and cut the fabric into rectangles. They then arranged the pieces according to the quilt pattern I had designed. After laying all the pieces out, they checked them to make sure no similar pieces were next to each other. They swapped around a few pieces. I labeled the pieces. They sewed them together. Bentley and Jake had never sewn before, but they had no problems sewing straight seams. Viva used her recently acquired skills to do a great job, too.

After the top was completed, I asked the children what color they wanted on the back: green or yellow. They chose yellow because we had heard it was one of Grandma Vicki's favorite colors. I asked them if they wanted to add a layer of batting. They said South Dakota was very cold, so Grandma Vicki needed the extra warmth. Bentley chose the quilting thread color: purple. Jake and Viva chose a quilting design: hearts and flowers. Gladys (my longarm quilting machine) quilted the top. Viva helped me piece the binding together and I sewed the binding on. The project went well from start to finish. We mailed the quilt off!

The children were a delight to work with. I had no idea children this young could sew so well. It was fun to have someone else make some of the tough decisions like fabric and thread choice and block location. We will work together on more quilts in the future. 

While Big Brother(s) Are Away...

Bentley and Jake (and Viva) were away at Grandma Karen and Grandpa Tim's last week for an overnight, and Evan and Lincoln didn't mind at all.  Bentley and Jake were already busy building their new Christmas Lego sets before leaving the house, and Evan and Lincoln were happy to help out once big brother's watchful (non-trusting paranoid and not so nice!) eyes were out of the way.  Awwwwh....

I took these pictures to show Bentley that Evan can play nicely with Legoes, but then reconsidered the wisdom of showing him.  I have a feeling he will say rude things about my parenting.  :)  Lincoln's brothers don't consider him to be quite the same level of menace as Evan, but they still don't consider him to be the ultimate building buddy either.  Lincoln has to appeal to Daddy to be given that status - and even Daddy redirects him to the Duplos sometimes:

Legos.  They surround me.  Must be a happy home, right?!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Traditions

Here is a quick review of some of our traditions that we enjoyed this holiday season.

We have an ever expanding library of Christmas themed books. Kara gift wrapped the books at the beginning of the season and the children chose one or two to read every day from December 1st on. We had 31 books in that collection at the beginning of December, but we've been given at least two new ones. In addition we have a collection of Christmas titles in soft back and board book that we've been given or that we had before the hardback collection was started. There are 48 books in that collection with a few more added this year thanks to Grandma Vicki.

Candy canes are a holiday favorite of Viva and Jake. This year I purchased four dozen. Lincoln crunched through his first two candy canes and then I told him to suck on it. The next couple he licked and licked and licked until we threw them away.  Evan had his first candy cane this year and he really enjoyed it. We never put any on the tree this year and about half of the candy canes will be thrown out next week.

The children watched a couple of movies with their dad-- one was Home Alone. They watched The Flight before Christmas on DVD. Viva requested that I record on the DVR Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (there's a dragon in this movie!). I still had A Fairly Odd Christmas recorded on the DVR from last year, so they watched it again. They watched the annual Dr. Who Christmas episode with opa.

We played the usual Christmas CDs. I added no new ones to the collection, but Kara might have? The problem with music in our home is that we don't all like the same artists and songs. The children like their CDs, but they aren't as enthused about mine and vice versa.

This year we made four different types all of which I posted on the blog. We gave some of the ornaments away as gifts. I wish we had time to make more!

Kara did more Christmas baking this year than I did! Viva made repeated requests for fudge and Nanaimo bars, so Kara made two batches of fudge and we both worked on the pan of Nanaimo bars. I made seven layer bars for Bentley and Haystacks which the twins like. Kara made almond spritz and snickerdoodles (for Matt) and two pans of English toffee. I don't think we tried out any new cookie recipes.

We did a couple of new activities this year. Only time will tell if they become family traditions.

We watched a crystal Christmas tree grow. The tree grew in just twelve hours. The crystals were fragile so after a few days the tree started to break apart.

Kara joined a group of homeschool moms who exchanged ornaments to create a Jesse Tree ornament set. A Jesse tree represents the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Ornaments on the tree symbolize different Old Testament stories beginning with creation and ending with the coming of the Messiah. Every day in December you read a story and put that ornament on the tree. We were doing well with our reading schedule until we realized that our ornament set was not a great match for the Jesse Tree book that we were reading from. Oops! We did not know there was such diversity in Jesse Tree Advent books! 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Final Eight Photos

The first and second place runner-ups for final photo:

 A couple funny photos:

 And four great shots!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Jake the Mathlete

Bentley has been enjoying Mathletics for the last few months.  Jake has been quite envious and I told him that once he was solid on his multiplication and division skills with Reflex math that I would sign him up for a subscription with Mathletics.  It was a happy happy day for Jake on the day I signed him up.  His first week he did this:

8 hours!  He put in a full work day, answering 9,225 math facts.  I'm glad we know how to have fun around here!  :)

Christmas Time is Hard to Do

Proof that it was exhausting couple of days.  Even for the young. :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Eve Festivities

Opa and I have our Christmas celebration with Kara and Matt and the grandchildren on Christmas Eve. Usually great-grandma is with us, but this year she went over to my brother's Christmas Eve celebration.

Christmas Eve is a busy day for Kara and I. I like to go out shopping for last minute items in the morning, so I did that. Then there was the last round of gift wrapping to do. Kara prepared the potato soup for our meal the day before, but we still had to arrange the relish tray, make deviled eggs, bake the pigs-in-a-blanket, and put together the cookie tray. (The last item did not get done. We ate the cookies out of their tins!)

Jake, Bentley and I put together our Christmas puzzle. We played Nativity Bingo afterwards with Viva and great-grandma and then we played a new Christmas card game Grandma Vicki had sent. Kara tried out a new system for gift opening this year and it worked very well. Instead of waiting until later in the day after dinner and opening all the gifts one after another in a big rush, she decided to let the children open gifts throughout the day. She gave them each one gift from her and Matt early in the afternoon. They opened them and spent the next hour reading (Jake and Bentley got books) and playing (Viva got a face painting book) with their new gifts.

Kara and Matt and the older children went sledding with friends. The sledding hill is two blocks away, so Kara brought Lincoln home when he decided after one run down the hill that he'd rather be with opa. Evan took a nap at home. The sledding party didn't last really long because the temperatures outside were below zero.

The children opened a few more gifts and really looked at them. The mailman arrived with Grandma Vicki's package! We ate our meal. Evan got into the black olives three different times: twice while we were setting the table and then again after dinner when we left the relish tray unguarded. 

Opa, Bentley and Jake with their ukuleles led a sing-along of Christmas songs. We read the Christmas story (Bible version). Great-grandma came back home. just before we all opened gifts. Bentley, Jake, Viva and I spent the last two hours of Christmas Eve learning a new game, Forbidden Island. 

I asked Mark for a photo of Kara to add to the mix, but he didn't take a single one. He says she was too busy taking photos on her camera. So why isn't there a photo of her taking photos?!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Here's the top five reasons why our home is merry:



 Merry Christmas to you!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gingerbread Town

During the kids "holiday" up at Grandma Karen and Grandpa Tim's home this past week they decorated a village of ginger bread houses with the grandparents.  They did good work, it's very festive! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bentley's Christmas Card

Bentley made a card, a few weeks back, for Grandma and I.  It was an unsolicited lovely surprise to receive.  He's a sweet kid!

The front.  I'm not sure why Saint Nick blows bubbles, but that's okay!

I like the hearts combined with the multiplication.  A very nice touch.


The grinch - "I'm going to steal Christmas"!

Paper Strip Ornaments

Our fourth ornament project of the season was a kit from Alex that uses decorated paper strips to create balls. It looked easy enough, but it was a little tricky. First the children blinged up eighteen strips of paper. Then they placed the strips of paper on a spindle provided in the kit. This was the tricky part: you had to place the strips on one at time putting one end of the strip on one end of the spindle and the other end of the strip on the other end of the spindle all the while preventing the strips you've previously placed on the spindle from popping off.

Bentley and I did the first one together and I was skeptical that the children could do one on their own. Viva, as usual, proved me wrong and did hers all by herself. Bentley took some coaxing to make a second one on his own. Jake did a great job after seeing Viva do hers. Viva and Jake have not yet made their second ornament although they said they wanted to. (Really?) The finished product looked nice, but I don't think we'll be purchasing this kit again.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Photos: Best of the Worst

On Friday I posted a few crazy photos from our warm-up photo session last Sunday. My goal was to set up the photo studio in the downstairs family room, to have a practice photo session with the older children , and then to have the younger children join them for the official photo session.

Good plan, but on Monday Kara decided to try out her new projector by showing a movie in the family room which meant rearranging all the photo equipment. (Grrr!) After getting the studio set back up we then could not find a time when all the children and opa (the photographer of choice) were available. We had a limited window of time to work in because the downstairs family room was turned into a guest bedroom from Wednesday to Saturday, so last Tuesday Kara used opa's camera while he was at work to take some photos. 

She did not get a nicely posed shot with all five children looking at the camera with smiles (or at least nongrimaces) on their faces. Is that too much to ask for? Today after church we tried again. Opa took the photos. I have the comic outtakes below from that studio session. (I don't have any funny photos from our second session, but there were some.) On Christmas Day I will post the best shots from the  last two photo sessions.

This photo sums up how the second photo session went.
Lincoln looked at Evan instead of the camera.
Evan would not sit still.
Viva and Jake were easily distracted.
Bentley smiled throughout.

So close to a good shot!

Evan would not sit.

Evan would not stand.
We took a fifteen minute break.
We brought out the chocolate chips.
We handed out candy canes.
Nothing worked.

We gave up on a group shot, but it was too late: Viva was smiled out.

Evan on the go