Saturday, March 29, 2014

Siblings on Siblings

The other day when I was interviewing the trio, I also asked the questions below. Sometimes it was difficult to get an answer that was about the sibling and not about the answeree. "I like playing with Evan." does not tell us much about Evan, does it? I did my best.

Tell me something you like about Evan:

V: He gets into trouble often.

J: His cuteness and that he likes kisses (He does?) and he likes piggy back rides (He does!).

B: He's fun to play with.

Tell me something you like about Lincoln:

V: He's such a great listener.

J: He likes to play with me.

B: He's a good swordfighter.

Tell me something you like about Viva:

V: I'm the only girl.

J: I like that she's my twin.

B: That I can torment her. (I urged him to think deeper!) She's easy to torment.

Tell me something you like about Jake:

V: That he's my twin.

J: I like everything about me. (That's our extreme Jake--all good or all bad!)

B: Sword fighting with him and using Nerf guns against him and dressing up.

Tell me something you like about Bentley:

V: He's so nice sometimes.

J: He always likes the presents I get him.

B: I'm the oldest.

Tell me something you like about Mommy:

V: She always cooks us yummy food.

J: Almost everything! When she's not grumpy I love everything about her.

B: She makes treats all the time.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Pinewood Derby: The Blue Bruiser

Bentley's pinewood derby car was finished on Tuesday night and Wednesday was the derby. Matt was in Barrow so opa took Bentley and Jake to the derby. 

Since this is the first pinewood derby that the children have attended, we did not have high expectations as to how B's car would do in the races. Yes, we read about how to build a fast car and Bentley followed the tips that he could given the materials he had. We had heard that one family in the ward always won the pinewood derby. They had a fast car design that they used with each of their five sons. They obviously knew more about derby cars than our family did.

Bentley, opa and Jake arrived on time to the derby. The first half hour was spent weighing the cars. We knew that a car could weigh up to, but not more than, five ounces. B's car was way under five before the lead was added and then it was a little over five ounces, so some wood had to be removed from the underside. After the alterations the car was exactly five ounces.

After weighing in the derby began. The cars were raced down a three lane track. There were nine cars at the derby and each car was raced sixteen times. The first heat that Bentley's car raced in, he went up against the boy with the fast car design. Can you believe it...B's car won! (We heard that there was a problem with the fast car's front bumper paperclip and adjustments were made thereafter.)

I did not attend the derby. I was home with Lincoln and Evan. Kara took Viva to gymnastics and then she drove over to check out the derby. She was quite surprised to find out that Bentley won the first six of his heats! Kara reported to me that Bentley was quite pleased with the results, but in a quiet way. Opa, on the other hand, was cheering loudly. Opa told me that Bentley became more animated as the derby went on.

When Bentley came home he reported to me how the race went: His car won all sixteen of the heats he raced in. He placed first in his den and first in the pack! Awesome! The race officials gave his car a name: The Blue Bruiser. Opa told me some of the heats were very close. We were all quite surprised. (But maybe we shouldn't have been? Opa has an engineering degree and google is a great source of information.)

Of course it was exciting to win, but this sets the bar awfully high for next  year and the next year and the next year…with four boys in the house we will be doing the pinewood derby for the next decade. 

FYI: This post was written by Grandma Julia, not Kara. We both started  posts on the pinewood derby. Kara had gotten as far as putting photos online and I had the text, so we combined our work. To give full due credit I must add that three of the photos in the post were taken by opa.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

B's Pinewood Derby Car

We've known for a couple months that the annual Pinewood Derby was coming up and that it is a big deal, but Bentley did not start working on his car until this past weekend. Matt was in Barrow last week and he went again this week, so opa was asked to help Bentley create a car. 

The project did not get started until I got involved. I googled fast pinewood derby cars and was directed to the Boys' Life site. They had hundreds of photos of pinewood derby cars in all sorts of odd shapes: a dragon head, an octopus, a sarcophagus, an aquarium, R2-D2, a tongue, two fried eggs (?!?), and even Elvis. 

After looking at these cars, I had three thoughts: First: I can't believe these cars go fast. Second: Who knew there were that many good wood carvers in scouting?! And my final thought: Bentley should have started on his car weeks ago.

I moved on from looking at odd cars to reading the tips for making a fast pinewood derby car. As I suspected dragon heads and sarcophagi are not an optimal shape for speed. Also, when I showed the sarcophagus and dragon head cars to Bentley he said he was not interested in making a one-of-a-kind car. He wanted something simple. Yeah! I had Bentley read the tips for fast cars with me. The main point we learned is that a wedge shape is an easy way to create a fast car. Bentley said he wanted a wedge. That was good progress on the project: he decided on a shape.

We also read that you should bake your block of wood for 2 hours at 250 degrees to make it lighter. After you bake it lighter, then you make it heavier in the back by adding lead. Bentley asked us to bake his car. We did. 

On Saturday B and opa started the hard work on the project. They went over to a friend's house to have him help them turn B's block of wood into a wedge shape with his table saw. Bentley did the cutting with both adults providing assistance. Then B and opa came home and B used sand paper to make the surface smooth. Opa drilled holes on the back end and the underside and then opa, Matt, and Bentley went outside to use a propane torch to melt lead to pour in the holes. Given the tools needed to accomplish this step, Bentley did more watching than participating.

The next step was to put a layer or two of primer paint on the vehicle. This was done Saturday evening and again on Monday. After a few rounds of sanding and spray painting, the vehicle was ready for its final paint job. Bentley had gone to the store on Saturday and chosen the paint color: blue. Bentley and Opa took turns spraying the paint on.

The final step was to add the tires. The fast car tips we had read advised that you test a number of different nails for straightness and then you pick the best four. Our problem was we only had four nails--the ones that came with kit. B and Opa tested them using the power drill. They were not as straight as could be, but they were all we had. Bentley and Opa polished them a little, added wax, and then graphite. 

Hammering the wheels on to the car was a little tricky. As sometimes happens in projects like this, one of the axles (AKA nails) created a hairline crack in the wood when it was nailed in. Oops! Glue was added to strengthen that area, but there wasn't much else that could be done. (Maybe it's a good idea to hammer the axles in place before you do anything else (and then remove them)? If your block of wood cracks, you can replace it right at the start of the project.)

When Bentley was testing the car after it was finished he noticed that only three of the wheels rotated when he moved the car. I inspected the wheels carefully and saw that one of the wheels was a little higher than the others so it didn't touch the ground when the car moved. Score! I remembered reading on the tip list that you have less friction if only three wheels touch the ground. I told Bentley this was a good thing, not a problem.

Why 16? Bentley told us 16 is 2 times 8. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trio Trivia

I asked the trio a few questions this week to entertain us blog readers. I questioned them when their siblings were not around so they would not be influenced by how their siblings answered. Here are their replies.

What is your favorite activity?

V: Painting, Science, Reading, Gymnastics & Coloring 

J: Legos...I think. Looking at the computer for toys. (He was playing with Duplos when I questioned him.)

B: Karate. Swimming.

What is your least favorite activity?

V: Having the boys tease me.

J: I don't have any. (short pause) I have one actually: My least favorite activity is sitting down and staring at the ceiling.

B: Eating and some of my math.

What are you most looking forward to?

V: My birthday and going to the bouncy house (on her birthday).

J: My birthday and The Color Run, if I go to it.

B: Easter.

What is your favorite book?

V: Secrets of Droon series. (She is currently rereading the 40+ book series.)

J: How to Speak Dragonese

B: Dragon Rider and The Warriors series (by Erin Hunter)

What is your favorite game?

V: Rat-a-Tat Cat and Slamwich

J: Forbidden Island

B: Seven Wonders

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Our Boys

I like this picture for many reasons. First off it shows how well our boys get along (most of the time). They spend many hours each day together and they are good buddies. They make lots of noise. They run, race, somersault, swordfight, dance, play, drum, shout, and have a good time. Alaskan winters are long and cold and going outside regularly is not always an option. We are so very fortunate to have a large home with room to spare for them to be active and noisy inside. It is a major blessing in our family life particularly so because we homeschool the children so they are at home most of the time. Opa occasionally talks about retiring and Kara and I remind him how noisy it is here during the day--noisy and busy and crazy. Is he ready for that? Work may be stressful, but being at home every day with our fivesome could be even more stressful for someone unused to the unrelenting daily chaos.

Back to the photo! I like it because the boys are shown to their best advantage. They are looking handsome in their Sunday clothes. The older brothers are being helpful playing with their younger brothers. And I love Bentley's socks!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Snowy Spring Day

10 days ago (March 14th in the evening, to be exact) we had a dump from Mother Nature.  Luckily for the kids the next day was a Saturday and they were able to convince their Dad to go out and play with them!

Beautiful, albeit seasonally inappropriate in my opinion... :)  In any case, the kids sure enjoyed it.  It was crazy how much heavy, wet snow landed in just six short hours.  Yikes!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Belt Stripes!

Bentley and Jake have been working hard - and now have earned green stripes on their purple belts at karate!  They are very excited.  And I am proud of them for working hard!  Next up will be their green belts.

And Viva?  She can hang like a monkey:

To each their own, right?!  :)

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Friday Evenings

are spent hanging with this crazy driver:

who is also part of this delightful duo:

Two kids is much quieter than five.  Even when the two of them are both under three.  :)  Bentley and Jake play music at Guido's with Opa and Viva goes to a tumbling class at the cheer gym.  It's crazy how quick life gets crazy (when you let it!) - but we're having fun, so it's all good!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Original Designer Baby

From back before the days of the blog.   In other words, 2006.  Bentley was the cutest little 11 monther.  Actually... he was (and is) perfect at every age.  No wonder he inspired us to have more!

Our original design.  Lincoln's hair, Evan's chin.... adorable kid!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Year of Viva (and some Evan)

I am a disorganized blog writer.  I keep a folder on my desktop where I throw copies of pictures that I think I might want to post, but I don't clean out my picture folder very often.  For some reason I have quite the collection of Viva left in there, going back more than a year to when Evan was a tiny guy.  So, I present, a year of Viva the great. :)

Cuddling baby brother:

More recently, practicing her needle position on the balance beam:

Sleeping.  I never grow tired of pictures of sleeping kids.  They always look so sweet!

With a slightly older Evan (I also never grow tired of pictures of kids cuddling!):

Reading.  Always!

Love this expression.

 Planting her strawberries in our earth box (last summer!):

Jake Boy

A lovely winter wonderland and a good looking boy in it!  We live in a beautiful place!

P.S. - This kid is in need of a hair cut in this picture... his fault, not mine.  His older brother asked for a hair cut but Jake told me he was enjoying his hairy state and refused to be shorn.  Ah well.  Cute either way!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Some Dogs Do

Lincoln enjoys his books in a particular way - the same ones read over and over and over.  Until suddenly we're done with one and a new favorite is picked up.  A recent favorite of his (which I enjoyed too!) is Some Dogs Do - it's about Sid, a dog who can fly.  Other recent favorites are the Brown Bear Brown Bear collection, and We're Going on a Bear Hunt.

Recent favorites that are NOT favorites of mine?  Curious George.  And more Curious George.  Some of the George books aren't bad, but others leave me confused.  Why does George get praised for getting into trouble and then helping to fix a small part of the mess he created?  I don't get it.  But I won't get started on a George rant.... :)

The Lego Room

No inventory of toys in our home would be complete until the Legos have been accounted for. Over the past five years tens of thousands of Legos have been brought into our home. So where are they? 

The newest Chima set is on display on the top of the toy shelves in the main family room. There is a file box filled with Monster Fighter sets in the game closet downstairs. In Bentley, Jake and Viva's bedroom there is a large plastic storage bin of Star Wars sets in the closet and seven to ten completed Lego sets on display on the bookshelf. My bedroom closet is home to the Death Star, my minifigure collection, and opa's Creator and Architecture sets as well as his stockpile of new sets. We have a shelving unit in our bedroom filled with bins containing the bulk of opa's Lego sets and Viva's Friends sets. 

This however does not account for the bulk of the Lego collection in our home. No way. We haven't gotten to Matt's Lego collection (the biggest in the house), Jake and Bentley's Lego sets, and the Craig's' List bonanza from two years ago. All of these treasures are in the upstairs family room.  

At first glance you might not believe that there are tens of thousands of Legos stored here. I'm pretty amazed at how little space they take up! Kara thinks they take up way too much space--and they do--but it's still surprising to me that they fit in two bookshelves, two Nilo storage bins, a Nilo table, three large containers, and a shelf above the fireplace! 

The Nilo table with its Lego/Duplo plates. I recently changed the plates from the Lego side to the Duplo side. Lincoln is a good builder, but Jake built the large structure you can see in this photo. Under the table are two large bins. At the top of the bins are trays with dividers filled with Legos (people, animals, car parts, arches, trees, fences, etc.) and under the trays are stored dozens of Lego sets. To the left of the table are two large shallow storage containers overflowing with the Duplo collection.

Above the fireplace are a few completed Lego sets. Until recently the two larger buildings were on the floor where Lincoln enjoyed playing with them.

The two bookcases are mainly filled with Legos. 30+ containers store sorted and unsorted Legos. One shelf holds six large notebooks containing Lego instruction manuals. On top of the shelves are a few new Lego sets (Matt's). On the bottom shelf is a small drawer cabinet that stores smaller Lego pieces. In addition there are three flip top divided bin clear storage units for small pieces. Next to the shelves is a large container filled with some of the Legos from Kara's Craig's List score. The rest of the Craig's List purchase are on the bookshelves in bins and bags. 

Littered on the floor (and the Nilo table) are Lego structures that have been recently built. Every few months I help the boys take apart their structures so they have room to build new ones. Jake remains the number one Lego builder in the house!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's Good to Have a Bro

Yes, I'll admit it... posts with titles such as this are common on my blog.  But with 4 boys it's to be expected, right?  The Evan-Lincoln relationship is shaping up nicely.  I'm sure Lincoln didn't believe me, back when Evan was tiny and new, that he would turn into a great playmate.  But time worked its magic and now they are great buddies!  If you define best buddies as the type that sometimes clobber you on the head with drumsticks or pull your hair for you when you're strapped into your highchair and can't escape.  Which, according to the books I've read, is a boy's definition of love.  Sometimes... sometimes they play quietly:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Three Amigos

Opa took this picture of the children via the rearview mirror of the truck, while driving (he says he was at a stop light.... !).  Aren't they cute?  They were reciting the "Going on a Bear Hunt" book while on the road.

The kids saw the Lego Movie with their father a few weeks ago, and declared it so amazing that they thought Opa should see it in the theater.  So he graciously took them with him to see it last night!

I think he sent me this picture because he is auditioning for role of child chauffeur.  If he's not careful he'll be hired.  The benefits aren't tangible but they are, nonetheless, many and awesome.  :)

Large Toy Domain

The downstairs family room is where the children build forts. They move the couches (they are on plastic sliders) and rearrange anything else they can move. They get the play tunnels out of the toy closet, pull the couch cushions from the couch, and use all the TV blankets in the room to create their fort. They spend more time building their forts than they do playing in them. Besides being a perfect location for forts, the downstairs family room is home to the children's larger toys such as the mini-trampoline, the stand alone punching bag, the fabric playhouse, the oversized doll house, the play kitchen, and Lincoln and Evan's battery operated ride on cycle. 

Other toys in this room include a Fisher Price toddler piano, a LeapFrog learning Table, the majority of the children's stuffed animal collection (stuffed into three orange bean bags and on top of the corner fireplace), two bins of wooden blocks, a large container of Mega Bloks, and a few puzzles.

Also located downstairs is the toy and game overflow closet. It contains toys and puzzles being rotated out of use for a few months, the children's dress-up clothes, our household's game collection, and other items that need to be stored somewhere out of sight. (I love big closets. If I designed a house, a quarter of it would be closets.)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Here Be Toys

Our home has many toys and games. The children are blessed to have two parents, five grandparents, and four great-grandparents all of whom have contributed toys and games to our home. We have children from one year to eight years, so we have infant toys, toddler toys, preschool toys, and older children toys. Soon we will give away the infant toys. In just a few years the preschool toys will find new homes. I wanted to record what our home is like at this stage in our family life.  

The main floor family room contains the majority of the children's toys, games and puzzles because the main floor is where they spend most of their waking hours. We have a wall of shelving units half of which are open and half of which contain bins. The bins contain such treasures as small balls, big balls, Little People toys, dinosaurs, stuffed animals, dolls, vehicles, musical instruments, and so on. The open shelves are filled with games, puzzles, and larger toys that don't fit well in the bins.

The back wall of the family room has built in book shelves and cupboards. The cupboards are filled with...can you guess?... toys and games. 

There is a Nilo table which has two bins under it filled with construction toys (Magformers, Zoobs, and Citiblocs). 

Not photographed are Lincoln and Evan's ride on cars. The cars are currently found on the main floor (sometimes they are stored downstairs) because they are quite popular right now with the two little ones. Vroom! Vroom!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

More Fun From Vegas!

Matt is a vacation over-achiever.  I don't think he knows you're supposed to sit around and stare off into space while on vacation.  :)  

They checked out some cool parks.  Like this one:

Tyler showed up and Bentley talked him into playing some games with him!

They went to some museums:

NASCAR!  Apparently there was an exciting race when Dale Earnhardt Jr ran out of fuel 4 seconds before the end of the race and someone beat him by 1 second.  Ouch!

Ball with Tyler.

Another museum shot!

Kid in the aquarium display.

Yet more play time!  Apparently Bentley got up at 6:30 a few mornings so he could go on a walk with Grandpa Tim.  Grandpa walked and he rode his scooter.

Vegas night life!

Cool dinosaur bones.

Bumper cars!

Another ride!

Golf.  Good times.

Off they go!  Hoover Dam.

Bentley baked Tyler's cake.

They went to see a basketball game.  Gonzaga won.

Headphones for NASCAR.  :)

Eating Tyler's cake!

More blue skies and green grass.

And a cute kid.

Another game of golf!

Coming home!

Wow!  That was a busy seven days.  Glad they had fun!