Saturday, May 31, 2014

100 Months Old!!

A month or two back Bentley came to the realization that he would soon be turning 100 months old, and he thought that sounded like a good reason to have a celebration.  We all agreed, as it would be silly to not take the opportunity as often as possible to celebrate !

So today we checked out a new local pool, went to McDonald's (fancy, right?!), and now we're heading off to eat brownies and watch a movie.

Happy 100, kiddo!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

First Camping Trip of the Season

My brave husband took the older four children out camping on Memorial Day weekend.  They left at lunch time on Friday and made it home around 6pm on Saturday.  Evan stayed home with me, and we had a blissfully peaceful 30 hours or so.  :)  As for Matt?  Those hours weren't nearly as silent or idyllic I'm sure!  Fun though!

After finding no spots left at their favorite campsite they kept on driving, and managed to snag one of the last spots at a Nancy Lake campground.  Score!  We knew it was going to be heavy traffic because some big forest fires mean all the holiday camping traffic is heading the same direction this year (away from the fire).

They played in the lake:

Then their father tasked them with setting up the tent:

Then back to the fun times!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I bribed Evan with Oreos to distract him from the fact his siblings were missing: 

The campers were blessed with sunny days, but apparently it was still cold that night (and in the morning).  Lincoln didn't have a hat but he made do with what he did have.  A true scout:

Back at home my little shadow and I were chillin':

They headed out around noon, and drove towards Talkeetna.  An awesome playground was discovered:

Last but not least?  The discovery of a great little bakery and a late lunch.  Then they hit the road home.

Am I lucky, or what?!  These kids have a great father!  He's definitely the *fun* one.  :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Current You Tube Faves

I like You Tube.  It provides short bits of entertainment or knowledge, and doesn't suck up hours of time!  I wish it was easier to screen or that they had a "kids only" version of the site so that I could more easily monitor what shows up in the sidebar.  Maybe some day?  :)

In any case, here's what we're seeing most recently at our place.  The Piano Guys, with new adoring fans.

And, of course, the ever present Gummibar.  I think we've mentioned him before.  I'm considering purchasing Lincoln the CD of songs for his birthday, and while on Amazon came upon this fascinating tidbit:

"The video for "I Am A Gummy Bear (The Gummy Bear Song)" has received over 200 million views on the internet, spreading virally across social netowrks such as You Tube and MySpace for the past two years, while gaining new fans all along the way. What began as a mere 30 second video clip in Hungarian, has grown into full length vidoes in 11 different languages, making "The Gummy Bear Song" the most viewed and posted animated video on the internet - ever! Children of all ages can't get enough of this sweet little green-butt-wiggling bear."

Who knew, right?!

Lincoln has the never ending desire to hit repeat over and over on Gummibear.  Which I allow about 4 times before my head is ready to explode and we have to be done.  :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Good Lookin' Bunch

Cutest little stair steps ever:

I'm a month (or two!) late, but I finally found the time to dress the brood up and drag them outside for their official Easter shot.  I've reached the height of my awesomeness here - matching clothes and dress for the girl child.  :)  They sure are cute!  Thanks for the picture help, Opa! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Dance Recital!

Viva had her dance recital this past weekend.  She performed in a tap piece (It's a Marshmallow World) and an acro piece (Sugar Shack).  Despite the length of the recital it was an enjoyable experience - I thought the school did a great job with choreography and polishing routines for their many, many classes!  Viva has enjoyed dance this year.  She is a much bigger fan of acro than tap though, thus the move to a gymnastics focus.  I wish there were more hours in the day, but I think the dance is going to have to go for now.  But what a cute kid and what a great year! :)

And now, because it is my blog, I will indulge myself with far too many pictures. Because I can!

The tap girl:

With flowers:

And acro girl:

Our artsy black and white shot:

And last, but not least (haha!) a few shots with her biggest fans after the show:

The end!

Memorial Day

Viva and I visited my father's grave to place some flowers on it.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Karate Tournament

The boys competed in their first karate tournament, and it was an adventure!  They decided to compete in both kata (form) and kumite (fighting).  This involved the purchasing of fighting gear, and getting used to mouth guards (that make it hard to yell without spitting them out!), and jock straps (which interfere with high kicks by jabbing your poor thighs, or so I'm told!)... all that being said, when it came time for the actual competition they were both psyched and ready to go!

Luckily for me (and them) they competed in different age brackets.  I'm not sure that direct competition would be good for their relationship, so I was very pleased about this.  :)  Bentley took two golds and Jake took a gold (kumite) and silver (kata).  In our tournament each of the age ranges had a score range (5-7) for their kata, and there were 5 judges (one at each corner of the mat, and one sitting at the top center).  Each holds up their score at their end, and the high and low are thrown out.  Bentley scored a 19.1 for his kata, and Jake scored a 19.0.  The little girl that beat him scored a 19.1, and third place was a 18 - so he was definitely close to the gold!  His competitor has been studying karate since she was four, and I told him he should be proud of his win against stiff competition.  He told me that silver is good, but gold would have been even better!  Little boys - not at all competitive, right? 

I like kata because you do it by yourself, you are graded on your merits, it's easy to watch... a pleasant viewing experience for a parent.

Next up was the kumite.  I didn't love this as much, but the boys did.  A fight is 90 seconds (or less if you win sooner), and first person to 6 points wins.  There are a number of 1 and 2 point moves, and a few 3 point moves.  Theoretically you are not to directly hit, but to show that you come all the way into the strike zone with enough force to hit if you had wanted to, but that you have the power to pull back and not actually hit in competition.  The boys' Sensei tells them this is the hardest part of competition fighting - showing that you HAVE the force, but not using it because you don't get points for contact.

On the other hand, you don't get penalized for using force either!  There were students from another school at the tournament that train with different rules and their strategy (from my perspective) seemed to be striking with enough force to rattle/cause harm, thus hopefully throwing your opponent off their game and giving you an edge.  This wasn't really evident with the little kids, but with the older and higher belts it was definitely there!  

I was impressed with how composed Bentley and Jake both were, and how focused.  One of Jake's fights was a bit of a harder fight with a kid larger than him, who had an in your face style of fighting that Jake isn't at all used to.  It was a close match, ending 6 to 5 in Jake's favor.  I liked seeing him try his hardest and keep coming back despite "opposition" (I know, I know - this was just a competition for 6 year olds, I'm being a BIT dramatic!!).   Bentley's match was against another child from our school, so it was more "well mannered" - Bentley got in some good 3 point moves and won fairly quickly!

Happily for them it ended in smiles and with the clink of medals.  Although I did stress that doing your best is what's important, and not winning.  But we all like to win, don't we?!  Jake tells me he is ready to move on to bigger and better things - i.e. Nationals.  Bentley has been musing over the best type of trophy case for me to install in their room to house their medals.  He tells me it needs to be big because there will be a lot more medals added.  Love the confidence!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Happy Face Time

Evan has been difficult about bath time lately. He used to enjoy taking a bath with Lincoln, but then he slipped under the water or had water dumped on his head by Lincoln one too many times. He decided he didn't like baths in my tub. The next two times I tried to entice him, he held firm refusing to take a bath. Next I tried putting him in the tub by himself with no older brother to splash water on him. He was quite happy...for five minutes and then he stood up and refused to sit down and play in the tub any longer. Viva came in to take a shower after gymnastics and asked to join him. Evan got really upset when she got in the tub, so we took him out. Out he came while Viva stayed in the tub. Lincoln joined Viva and after his shower Bentley joined them both. When Jake came into the bathroom I heard this conversation:

Jake: Can I get in?

Bentley: It's getting a little crowded!

Viva: But look at all these happy faces!

Jake joined the trio and Evan happily stood outside the tub and played with the bathwater from that position until his mom took him away before he tumbled into the tub.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mother's Day

A belated (but here!) recap of Mother's Day 2014!

We had a nice quiet Mother's Day with a crowd pleasing meal - burgers and chips.  There were pretty flowers from the kids:

And delightful cards they made on their own.




And, last but not least, gorgeous weather to enjoy the great outdoors!

Two small children were captured for a token selfie with their Mom:

And that was that!  I am so lucky to have so many healthy and happy children!  (As well as the world's best Mom, of course!)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Restful Moment

This picture makes my heart happy:

Once in a while Evan calms down and we get a brief glimpse into what our future could look like when Evan transforms into a beautiful butterfly of calmness. :)  By saying that am I implying that quiet play is superior to loud crazy play?  I'll admit it!  My nerves enjoy quiet children.  Even if that's not their natural state. 

To be fair, Evan is very good at entertaining himself (until he's DONE!).  He plays with balls, plays with the Potato Head, plays with his racetrack, colors, pulls out the Little People, reads, dresses up in mittens and hats and stolen shoes... and, of course: plays on the piano, plays the drums, rides his car at speed of light pace, shrieks with delight, jumps on the couch, and throws pillows on the floor.  All in one day.  Oh, wait.  All in an hour, actually. :)

It's a busy life when you're a little guy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spring Allergies = Yuck

I am *almost* ready to concede the fact that my children, Genevieve in particular, may have some issues with spring pollens.  The fact that overnight three of them started rubbing their eyes, sneezing, and dealing with runny noses?  At the same time that my Mom's seasonal allergies kicked back in?  Highly suspicious.   Genevieve is always rubbing her poor eyes which are a bit swollen.  Bentley seemed to have some trouble with a cough for a day or two, and Lincoln had watery eyes too.  But it's definitely Viva that has been hit the hardest - poor kid!

My lame attempt to keep some of the pollen out of her eyes as she was heading out the door to play:

I suppose this means next year I'll have to get serious about researching local bee pollen/natural remedies to help deal.  I don't like the idea of putting her on allergy drugs for a month of the year if I don't have to!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ukulele Contest!

*Attention*!  Breaking news for our 3-5 blog readers!! :)  We want your HELP!

Bentley and Jake entered a ukulele themed photo contest. They couldn’t decide which photo to enter for the ukulele themed photo contest, so I picked for them trying to avoid dueling ukes (a martial arts play on words!)

The goal is to be popular and get as many votes as possible. One vote per day from each Internet address is allowable (and appreciated!), the contest ends at the end of May.  They're still climbing their way to the front page, but they can be found on the “Vote” tab using the search box with the word “kata” at:

Please spread the word, the boys want to win and are grateful for your support :)!  No registration is required to vote, you just click the "vote"! button! :)

"Ukulele Kata"


Anchorage's first Cabela's store opened two weeks ago. We heard from numerous sources that they had an impressive fish tank and a lot of wild game trophies (AKA mounted animals preserved by a taxidermist). I took the children over there last week to check it out.

I had never been to a Cabela's before so I was not prepared for the incredible number of mounted animals. I thought they'd have one of each type of animal, but they had multiple examples of many animals: wolves, Dall sheep, sea lions, caribou, moose, walrus, bears etc. I wish I had counted how many large game trophy animals were on display, but I didn't think to do so while there. We'll have to go back and do a more thorough job of checking out the dead wildlife!

I called the store to see if they had a head count. The store operator said she didn't know the number, but the cost was $1.5 million in taxidermy. When Cabela's decided to build in Alaska, they contacted local taxidermists and asked them to offer money for their trophy animals to local hunters with nice trophy animals coming in to get them mounted. A friend of my nephew's sold his Dall sheep to Cabela's for $500 and then Cabela's had to pay the taxidermist to mount it. (What does it cost to get a large animal mounted?! $1.5 million is a lot of money!) 

The operator asked another employee how many mounted animals they thought there were in the store. They guestimated over 100 not counting the smaller animals like fish. (Where were the mounted fish? I only saw the live ones in the two huge tanks at the back of the store.)

The operator also commented that for its size (100,000 square feet--a mid-sized Cabela's) our new store had a larger than usual collection of mounted animals. The main aisle of a Cabela's store showcases local game and given that this store is in Alaska there are a lot of big game animals to showcase.  When you enter the store the first thing you see is two large bull moose in fighting stance. Definitely an eye stopper. Which gets me thinking...did they have a Kodiak bear on display? Maybe they are still building their collection? 

At the back of the store was a small hill on which was displayed small and medium sized animals (not necessarily found in Alaska) that hunters like to hunt--mule deer, turkeys, etc. The children enjoyed our field trip to Cabela's.

Dang! I just read online that there is a fudge shop at the Anchorage Cabela's store. (I am not joking.) We are definitely going back...soon!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Water Fun

These kids don't look at all crazy.... right?!

(I didn't get to close too them - they were aiming their water guns at me!!).

The kids were quite delighted, upon a recent overnight up the hill with Grandma Karen, to learn that 1) the hot tub was refilled and 2) the water was still cold enough that they could easily splash around like little fish and play under water.  

I'm not sure how Grandma Karen eventually convinced them to get out - I'd left by that point.

P.S. - Summer in Alaska is in full swing.  Sure doesn't look like almost 9 pm in this picture, does it?!  I love our light summers!  It lets us play twice as long with the gorgeous weather while we have it.  :)

4 Pics 1 Word

This is the popular new game at our home. It was on my sister Karla's suggestion that I downloaded it to my iPad three or four weeks ago. As the name suggests you look at four pictures and then you figure out one word to describe them all. You are given twelve letters on the bottom of the screen from which you can spell the correct answer, although the words are not often twelve letters long so many of the letters are garbage letters thrown in to confuse you. If you are stuck and cannot figure out a puzzle, you can buy a correct letter or delete some of the garbage letters. When I first started playing I did like to "cheat" and buy letters. Every correct answer gives you 4 points in your bank, but if you buy a hint it costs you 60 points (for a correct letter) or 80 points (to dump a couple of letters). You have to use the rewards from fifteen or twenty correctly guessed puzzles to give you one single hint on a tough puzzle! OUCH! I much prefer to hammer away on my own, but that isn't always the best solution in our household. If no one can figure out the puzzle, then you can't move on and the game becomes very dull. So, in the interests of keeping the attention of my young co-puzzlers, I resort to hints so I can solve it and we can move on to the next puzzle. Jake and Bentley downloaded the game to two other iPads so they can have their own individual score. When you put the game on more than one device, you discover that the puzzles do not upload in the same order for every player. However, the pool of puzzles is the same, so when the boys get stuck on a puzzle they can usually find someone who has solved it already. Of course, we have to remember the answer! The boys have high scores (number of puzzles solved) and large point totals since they don't pay for their hints like I do. Why do I like this game? I've gotten everyone in the household except Evan and Lincoln to play at least a few puzzles. It's a great way for the children to learn vocabulary, synonyms, and homonyms (same spelling but different meanings). They also get practice spelling. Then there is the thinking required to solve a puzzle. You have to use different approaches to solve different puzzles. Sometimes my answers are too general and I have to get more specific, but other times I'm too specific and I need to generalize more. When you look at the pictures, sometimes you are looking for a small item that they all have in common (a bent arm!), but other times it's a theme in common and the pictures themselves are very different. Today I am stuck on this set of pictures: a hand pushing an elevator button, an open book with spirals of magic(?) coming out of it, an old fashioned typewriter, and a girl whispering into another girl's ear. I am going to have buy a letter to move on. After less than a month of playing our household has solved 428 puzzles!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Photos

Last Sunday (once again!) the children looked so adorable that I asked Mark to take some photos after church while they were still in the Sunday best dress. The toddlers were not at church the second half, so they did get included in the photo shoot.