Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Fool's Joke

Better late than never? I'm posting this today and then next week I will repost it to April first.

Viva really wanted to do an April Fool's prank, but it was hard to come up with a good idea. Finally we decided to switch out the boys' karate gees. We asked Kara to pull out Viva's old gee (a smaller size than Jake's) and switched it for Jake's gee. The plan was to switch Jake's for Bentley's, but that part of the plan wasn't communicated to Kara clearly (Viva and I weren't home so we had to enlist her help), so only Jake's gee was switched out.

When we came home we saw that Jake was dressed in Viva's gee, but he couldn't tell the difference. We tried giving him hints, but he didn't clue in to what we had done. Finally we told him that he was wearing Viva's old gee. He still didn't believe us. *sigh* 

Finally Bentley agreed with us--"Jake there's no stain on the front and your gee has a stain on it!" (The stain has since been removed!) 

Jake in Viva's gee:

Jake is his gee:

I can see the difference, but he didn't! Next year we will think of a better prank.

He Is SOOOOO Cute!

Evan is at a super cute stage. I found in my photo folder that one third of the photos were of him and another third of him with Lincoln. I have to try to take more of the older children, but between schoolwork, karate, and gymnastics, they just aren't available to photograph. (Sure, I take the occasional photo of them doing schoolwork--and I will be posting some of the those soon--but they aren't the most exciting photos.)

And now here's EVAN:

He loves books! 

He loves Linclon's BuckleyBoo BuckleyDog.
Lincoln never spent more than five minutes (total) with this toy, but Evan thinks it's great!
He has great-grandma unbuckle them and then he buckles them back up.

He stole great-grandma's iPhone (yet again) and then ran over to the blue chair and happily punched buttons until great-grandma recalled that he had it and then he lost it.

He is very good at somersaults. 
I saw more than one four year old at the cheer competition who didn't have his skills.

His ukulele skills aren't as impressive. 
He is more interested in getting the ukulele out of its case than he is in playing.
Isn't his new sleeper super cute? He wouldn't pose for me in it.

He and Lincoln both like to play Let's Go Fishin'.
(I think it's a super lame game, but I'm not a toddler!)

Here he is strapped into his high chair. 
We like it when he's in his high chair. 
We know he's not getting into trouble.
But he can still make a BIG mess.
Eighteen month olds are a lot of work.
It's a good thing they are sooooo cute!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

First Pea Harvest

Two days ago Bentley picked and ate his first two peas! From planting to harvest was 39 days. It's a magic garden window that we have!

A Quick Swim

Last Saturday I took the older three to the YMCA's open house. They were thrilled to get to swim in the YMCA pool. They have been asking and asking to go swimming, but it's hard to fit it in with the boys' karate schedule and Viva's schedule of dance, cheer, and gymnastics. Viva is no longer doing cheer (which she is sad about), so we had some extra time Saturday and the YMCA had free pool time, so it was a good match.

The rule at the YMCA is that you have to wear a life vest or take a short swim test to show your skills. This was a problem for Jake. He stated that he would not take a swim test and he was not going to wear a life vest. *sigh* Nonetheless he got dressed in his swimsuit and came to the pool with his siblings.

I told Bentley and Viva that they should go first and let Jake take the swim test last so he could watch them and see how easy it was. He was still quite traumatized and was crying on the pool deck. I reminded him he did not have to take the test, but as I mentioned he certainly did not want to wear a life vest if his siblings weren't going to be wearing one.

There were two other kids who needed to be tested when the trio showed up. The first boy jumped in and swam the half length of the pool as required. The girl next in line told the life guard she couldn't swim. (Huh? Why join the swim test line?!) He told her to go get a life vest on. Bentley jumped in and swam to the end of the pool. Viva jumped in and swam to the end of the pool. Jake jumped in and swam to the end of the pool. Crisis ended happily.

They played in the pool for 45 minutes until the pool was emptied. At the YMCA at the top of the hour they make everyone in the pool get out for ten to fifteen minutes while the life guards take a break. Then they do new testing for anyone joining free swim and then it's back in the pool. The problem is how do you stay warm for that ten to fifteen minutes?

Lincoln was very sad not to be able to go, but even had I wanted to join the kids in the pool (and then Lincoln could have come with us), it would have been too cold for him to enjoy. And what about Evan?! I'm not sure the YMCA is going to work out for us. ARG!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ukulele Night

Recently Bentley tried his hand at improvisation. He rewrote a section of song that he didn't like. We encourage such innovation--of course!--but then Bentley told Opa he wanted to take his variation to ukulele night and have the group play the song his way. At first Opa tried to talk him out of that idea, but Bentley held firm, so Opa had to give in and support our budding musician. Opa was concerned that a lot of the group members might know the song as it was originally written and therefore they would have a hard time playing it differently (the ukulele group are mostly amateur musicians). Turns out that the song was not that familiar to the group, so they were fine with playing it a new way!

Last Friday Matt and Kara took Evan and Lincoln to hear their brothers and opa at ukulele night. Lincoln joined the players and played a little bit! The ukulele group was very welcoming to its newest member.

Train Time

Last Friday I and Lincoln built a train track together. Well, I built the track and he used it. At first we didn't let Evan join us because he doesn't usually play nicely with the trains. He takes the track apart and throws the trains. This upsets Lincoln. However, after giving us a few minutes alone Evan's mom insisted that we let Evan join us upstairs with the trains.  He was well behaved for fifteen minutes which is a long time for an eighteen month old. I even let him play with a battery operated engine. He ran it on his head--it was like getting a gentle massage! And he ran it on the track, too. He made it go down the hill over and over and over. Then he started holding the train wheels down which burns out the engine, so I took it away from him. He was angry and left.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Easter Photo

We took this last Sunday after church. The boys were all dressed in suits and looked so handsome and Viva had on a new, very pretty spring dress. Unfortunately there was a chilly breeze running through the yard and Viva was cold. The group all wanted to get inside, so we shot a few quick photos and this was the best.

Kara has purchased some matching shirts for the boys that also match Viva's dress, so we will try again to get a nice group shot. (The next photo will be in color so you can admire Viva's dress and the new shirts!)

Easter Eggs

The children dyed Easter Eggs on the Saturday before Easter.

Traditionally the Easter Bunny comes to our house Friday night leaving eggs to be found on Saturday morning, but it was a busy morning (karate), so he came on Saturday night leaving eggs to be found on Sunday before church. 

Evan was not a dedicated egg finder. He had to stop and play with the first egg he found: open, shut, open, shut, etc. When he finally moved on to his second egg, he discovered that he could fit his first egg inside his second egg, so more open, shut, open, shut. 

The Easter bunny left so many eggs that the hunt continued downstairs after church. Since our egg hunters are very dedicated they found almost every egg...and a missing orange wax crayon lost for many months in the seams of the kid size couch!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bob Cat!

Matt, Jake, Lincoln, and Bentley had the chance to attend a den meeting on Wednesday where Bentley received his Bobcat award.  He was a good sport about bobbing for apples and having his face painted (although he 100% declined a picture of that!) - and Jake, of course, is frothing at the mouth and ready to join scouts ALREADY!

Lincoln?  He was there for the desserts.

Good times!

Friday, April 25, 2014



SET is our new favorite game. Jake, Bentley and Viva like to play it. It is simple and quick. It is a math game that strengthens pattern recognition. We've owned the game for years and played it a few times over the past couple of years, but it is only recently that it's become popular with the children. The name of the game says it all--you look for sets of three cards that match. Usually the children have fun playing, but sometimes they get too competitive and then tempers flare. The game can be played noncompetitively, too, so when tempers flare I suggest that they all play on the same team! Kara downloaded an app for the iPads and that version has been the favored one the past two weeks.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bed Time!

We've had a nice stretch of time here with Matt not traveling much, and he's taken advantage of that to work on a bedtime routine with Evan and Lincoln.

Daddy and Evan are long time bed buddies. Evan is still our good little sleeper and is always nice about heading to bed after some rocking and story time.  Lincoln?  Mostly due to me he's not very good about bed time.  Stays up too late, sleeps in my bed, and then thrashes around wakefully and gets up early when I do.  Not a great combination of factors for a two year old despite the fact he's an awfully cute cuddle bug.

So we decided it's time he head to bed with Evan.  That poor little guy shouldn't have to be lonely in his room, right?!  We appealed to Lincoln's kind hearted sensibilities and it's working pretty well.  He tells me "baby not lonely anymore!".  Lincoln and Evan read stories together with Daddy, then watch some Piano Guys on you tube, get their backs rubbed, and head to bed.  All before 10 pm.  Total craziness!

Even crazier?  Our 18 month old is finally sleeping through most nights without getting up at 11... or 3... or 5.  For months he's been rather attached to extra Daddy time, but for the past couple weeks he's been a blissful dozer.  Love it!  

We'll see how well this routine carries on with Daddy's travel plans of the next few weeks.  I suspect it might be rough on Mommy who's not as dedicated to elaborate routines... wish me luck.  :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Playground

For the past week or so we've been getting in some quality time at the playground across the street.  It's Evan's first real experience with playing at the playground and it's a big hit!  The older ones are jazzed about it too.  Hurray for spring!

Monday, April 21, 2014

B's Garden

On March 19 Bentley came home from cub scouts with five big red Solo cups labeled bean, pea (3), and squash. In the very bottom of every 5" high cup was a small Jiffy peat pot. Each pot had been watered and two seeds added. I found a plastic tray and we put the cups on the tray and placed the tray in our kitchen garden window. 

After a day or two I cut the cups way down so the sun could hit the peat pots. Within days plants emerged from the pots--the three peas, then the bean, finally the squash. Bentley checked on his plants (almost!) daily. It would have been easier for him had they been in a lower window, but the garden window was the best spot in the house for encouraging growth.

This photo was taken on March 28. 
Bentley and I had just repotted the plants because the roots were already sticking out of the peat pot. 

Here they are on April 9 just three weeks after planting. 
Bentley took this photo to his cub meeting to show off how well they were doing. He only showed it to the leaders though, so he didn't receive feedback from the other cubs on how their plants were doing.

And here's a photo taken last Saturday, April 19. 
If you look closely you can see flowers on the peas! 

Our garden window, the Alaskan sunshine, and Bentley's (and my) care are a very winning combo. Of course, we cannot transfer these plants outside until Memorial Day weekend which is still five weeks away. (That's the traditional weekend for planting in our area.) The squash needs a larger pot. I really don't think they should have grown so big so soon!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Earthquake Drill

The Great Alaskan Earthquake ripped Anchorage apart 50 years ago on March 27, 1964. To commemorate this event last month the newspaper ran a week long series of articles on the quake and its tsunami. There were lots of public service announcements about earthquake preparedness and earthquake drills. I read about a suggested practice drill at 1:36PM on March 27, 2014. I decided the children should participate, so we ran an earthquake drill at our home.

First we read the guidelines for earthquake drills. Here was the standard advice: "If you're indoors, stay there. Get under -- and hold onto --a desk or table, or stand against an interior wall. Stay clear of exterior walls, glass, heavy furniture, fireplaces and appliances. The kitchen is a particularly dangerous spot." It is not advised that you stand in a doorway, but rather that you find an inside corner to huddle in.  In a major earthquake you might not be able to move about safely so you should not move to another room unless the room you were in was unsafe. 

We were having our earthquake discussion at the kitchen table which is located partially in a window bow containing five tall windows. The children could climb under the table and hold on, but it didn't seem particularly safe with all those windows near and cupboards filled with Fiestaware just a few feet away. We looked at the family room which is connected to the kitchen/dining area but it had one wall with windows and the two remaining walls were covered in toy or book shelves. The school room was similarly dangerous--windows and bookshelves filled with many heavy objects that could go flying.

Here was our best solution for the main floor:

I'm not sure this was a good solution, but I haven't yet figured out anything better. Our main floor is perfect for family living: lots of open space (i.e. few interior walls) with many windows to let in the light. It is not so perfect for staying safe during an earthquake.

Friday, April 18, 2014

And... the Bikes Are Back!

Spring in Alaska.  :)  The bike trails aren't quite clear yet, but they're good enough for these Alaskan kids.

The boys (and the big one, their Dad) are excited and looking forward to a season of biking fun together!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Red Moon PARTY time!

On Monday evening we stayed up late (but not much later than normal... ha!) to check out the red moon.  We had some clouds but they weren't bad, so we had a nice view of the moon gradually becoming eclipsed and then turning red!  Opa managed to grab a nice picture from the back porch:

This past weekend we watched some Ted-Ed videos about lunar eclipses, so the kids were ready/excited to check it out.  Viva decided to draw the eclipse:

Bentley avidly watched it, and Jake... well, Jake participated.  His formal opinion is that watching the moon for an hour is not terribly exciting.  I believe there was a comment about it being as exciting as watching grass grow.  I objected, as I don't normally see significant grass growth in the space of just one hour!  :)

If you want to learn more about the lunar eclipse tetrad, of which this was the first event, you can check out a short video here.  Fun stuff!