Monday, June 30, 2014

Viva's Gift to Jake

Viva likes to make cards and gifts. For their birthday she made Jake a tied fleece blanket. Kara got a kit to make the blanket free at a garage sale. Viva appropriated the kit and asked for my help to make it in secret. 

At her insistence we started on it four weeks before their birthday. Our first session making the blanket convinced me of two things. First, I did not want to make this blanket. Second, Viva did. I tried to talk her into sewing a quilt with me for Jake. It would have taken up a lot less time! Unfortunately for me, she was adamant that this was what she wanted to make for Jake. So I decided to suck it up and help her regardless of my feelings on the project.

I cheated a little. After Viva and I did a few squares together during our first tying session, I got a couple of friends to help me get the project off to a good start. We did maybe 1/4 of the ties. (Viva was okay with my outsourcing some of the work.) Then it was back to Viva and I plugging away three times a week usually while Jake was at karate. It didn't take as long as I had feared. With consistent three times a week work parties, we finished the quilt with a couple of days to spare.

Jake was appropriately enthusiastic when he opened his gift. "It's wonderful!" he told his twin. (I have to admit that it was also wonderful to help my granddaughter on a project of her choosing.)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

More Bro Photos

The boys in our home are adorable. Here's my proof: 

I couldn't get Evan in the last photo because he wouldn't leave the porch. He couldn't figure out how to keep the umbrella over his head and he didn't like getting wet. Next time! Viva was at gymnastics which was too bad because she loves the rain. When it first started pouring down, I told the boys to quickly race outside and enjoy a rain dance. They took forever to get their sandals on. (They insisted on sandals because of the worms!) The rainshower was half over before they finally got outside. Bentley was back inside before it finished because he heard some thunder and he was sure lightening was going to strike him. That child needs to relax!

Saturday, June 28, 2014


We are a Lego family, but we have dipped our toes in the vast ocean of Playmobil sets. Lego and Playmobil are really not that much alike, but there is limited space in the toy chest, limited money in the toy budget, and limited time to play therefore the two toy lines come into competition (at least in our home!). The older children received a few Playmobil sets two or three years ago. There are many small parts in a Playmobil set, so the sets are not stored on the mainfloor where Lincoln and Evan would have free access. They are in the downstairs toy closet. Last week Jake or Viva (I don't recall which one) decided they wanted to play with the Playmobil sets, so out they came. The trio enjoyed a few good hours of play.

PS The castle is not a Playmobil set. It's Melissa and Doug, but it's the right size for Playmobil people and accessories.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Another Day and Another Bike Ride!

On the trail:

Photo break!

The mud strip - classic indicator of a good bike ride:

Matt and the boys have done a great job of getting out and enjoying their bikes when the weather cooperates and Matt's in town.  I'm glad they've been able to get out and I'm sure the summer has many more trips in store for them!  On occasion Viva joins them, but she more often choses to opt out.  Which is a bonus for me as she loves to play with her little brothers and often keeps them occupied for hours.  I can't complain!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Twins Turn 7!

The twins had a (very anticipated) birthday!  It was a fun filled day.  As usual there were too many presents and lots of energy.

We started the day off with donuts from Daddy. (Viva requested them!)  We were lucky enough to have Matt around for the day as he was able to take some time off of work.  We were going to check out the Japanese drummers at the library, but the pouring rain helped us decide to change our plans.  Instead?  We spent our morning making and decorating cakes!  Jake and Viva wanted to help.

Viva wanted tie dye cupcakes.  She helped make them, and then frosted and decorated them with sprinkles!

Jake wanted a chocolate monkey cake.  We considered a number of options online and then he picked his favorite.  He tells me he chose the one he did because the monkey had cute spiky hair on top of his head like Jake's hair.  :)

After cake decorating the older three headed out for an afternoon at H2Oasis - the twins agreed that sounded like a great way to spend an afternoon.  Matt hasn't been there before so he was the lucky parent representative to get in on the fun!

Jake wanted to do two hours of karate on his birthday day, so after some fun at the water park Jake and Bentley headed out.  When they returned we had a pizza party, cake, and then a Star Wars in the tent!  It was a good evening and another successful birthday.  :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Pal Ramses

I bet the cat is sad that his 4th birthday came and went without any great fanfare at our place, but just so he knows (if he reads the blog, that is) we care... here are a few pictures of our favorite good natured and sociable feline.  He's a gem of a cat and I'm happy he likes children!

Lincoln and Ramses in particular have been good buds lately.  It's nice to see the cat doesn't hold any long term grudges about past behavior.  I hope that same spirit of forgiveness holds true when Evan gets a bit older and sweeter.  :)

Tech Addict

Evan's newest baby trick is a bit of a disturbing one.  Disturbing to me, at least!  On three different occasions I have witnessed him turning on my DVD player, ejecting whatever random disc is in there, and choosing a Looney Tunes one to insert (and start) instead.  One time I could have called random.  But three?  I think he's definitely communicating here!  This is a bit disturbing to me as I'm not much of a cartoon fan... but, on the other hand, I suppose it means he really enjoys his cartoon time with Daddy.  :)

Crazy DVD skills aside, Evan enjoys all types of tech.  Great-Grandma's iPhone, of course, as we've mentioned before:

The iPad, where he has discovered PBS kids:

(I would be more alarmed by this behavior if he watched for more than 5 seconds without moving on.... !)

And, last but not least, Mommy's laptop.  I'm not a big fan of the random button punching activity that he finds so amusing.  But I do like his chubby thighs so I forgive him.

If Evan was my oldest and only I'm quite sure he wouldn't be indulged with technology the way he is.  But he sees his older siblings using it, and he is very vocal about his thoughts on his own perceived rights.  And, I'll admit, it is easier to humor him than to say no to him.... but I do at least get the last chuckle as he doesn't get much out of the iPad on his own.  He jabs at buttons.  :)  Sometimes I open music apps and set the parental controls so he's locked in them.  It's almost funny how crazy irked he gets when the home button doesn't work!

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Summer Gym Rat

Geneveive is keeping busy this summer with her gymnastics.  We switched gyms and she is now on a Level 3 gymnastics team that meets three times a week for four hours a day.  That's a lot of time working out! When people ask her if that's TOO long, she assures them that it's really not THAT long - they take a 15 minute break and so are only working out for 3 hours and 45 minutes.  :)

We tried out our new gym because we were wanting more of a challenge, and I was expecting they would want her in their level 2 group (she was in the level 1 group at our old gym) - when they said she would be a good fit with the level 3s we were thrilled, but I wondered if maybe the number of hours was a bit extreme.  Genevieve didn't have those same doubts though so we signed up! She's having a great time and making some new friends.  It's fun to see the new tricks she's learning and how strong she's getting.

For a newbie who started gymnastics at the end of Feb I don't think she's doing too shabby!  She's landed some beautiful back hand springs that she she is quite proud of.  She's working on consistency now.  :)  On the bars she's mastered a mill circle (and her pull over and back hip circle) and is working on a kip glide and front hip circle.  Vault for the lower level gymnastics isn't really fancy, so they just work on running fast!  And on beam she's working on her cartwheels.  Next up?  Who knows!  I do know she's having a great time and that's fun to see.   

Earlier this week Genevieve told the librarian at Loussac Library that she is going to be a gymnastics coach when she grows up.  I think that's a decent indicator that she's lovin' it!  If her work with Lincoln and Evan is any indicator I think she could have success in this field as an instructor!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Scout Camp

Bentley had a chance to go to Cub Scout camp this past week with his pack from church.  It was a Tuesday thru Friday day camp.  Going into it he was excited, although he didn't have any idea of what to expect - the day before camp he asked me what they do there, wondering if there was much going on besides (in his words) "sitting around eating s'mores".

Boy was he in for a surprise!  Archery, crafts, BB guns, safety, knot tying, canoes, water fun, flag ceremonies, skits, hiking.... it was a crazy week!  Every evening he would come home and lay down exhausted flat on the floor.  I guess the secret to wearing out a boy is to wake him up an hour or so earlier than normal and send him out to run run and run in the woods all day.  That's all.  :)

I have a few random pics from camp that I found on Facebook from camp leaders.  It's a bit strange to be tagged on Facebook/see your kid out there.  A new experience for me!

On Friday evening Grandma, the other kids, and I joined Bentley for the evening celebration camp fire.  The boys did some skits and sang a few songs.  We were all entertained.  The verdict?  A great week (archery was the favorite, if your'e wondering) and Bentley is looking forward to next year.  Jake, of course, is also looking forward to next year - he was a bit sad he didn't get to go this year.  It can be awfully hard having an older brother who's not THAT much older!

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Great Perch to Read From

Brothers are good for climbing on.  It's even better when they're good sports about it.  Bentley and Jake (for the most part!!!) are very tolerant of their set of little brothers.  They rough house in a good natured manner, and keep it friendly.  And sometimes I even catch them being cute!

Awwhhh... what's not to love here?  Reading a church magazine, hanging out, and looking cute!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

When Daddy's in Charge...

he sets child expectations WAY too high.  Three parks in one day?  Playing in the creek too?  Ridiculous!  I'm glad they have such a go-getter for a Dad.  :)  He's always game for heading into the great out doors and trying out new places with the kids and they always have a great time with him.

Someone told me that Alaskan summers may be short but because the days are so long and gorgeous we have time to pack twice as much fun into them, and then winter needs to be twice as long so we can recover.  I think I agree with that logic.  :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Want Out! I Want My Mommy!

Here is Evan this morning trying to escape my bedroom where he was locked in so he wouldn't follow his mother who was leaving the house with Jake to take him to running class. Evan stood at the door on his tippy toes for ten minutes crying (no tears). It was not pleasant for Evan or me or Lincoln. Viva slept through it. I thought about putting a pillow over my head, but I had to keep an eye on him to make sure he didn't figure the lock out. He has opened these types of locks before. It's unlike him not to have done so.

Evan is a momma's boy and when he wants momma no other will do. It's quite disheartening for a grandma, but the facts are the facts. When that boy sets his mind on something, he will not easily change it. Sometimes this stubbornness is part of his charm, but other times is just frustrating. Evan's saving grace is that most of the time he's a very happy little boy. When he's not it's more a problem for his mother than for those he refuses to interact with.

When he's in a Momma Mood he clings to her legs and sobs. If she is in the middle of doing something, too bad. The more she resists, the harder he tries to get her attention. You'd think a mother of four boys would understand this phase of boyhood and just give in right away, but she doesn't always. Silly mommy!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Music Time at the Library

Music at the library is back for the summer!  Genevieve brought it up a few weeks back, and asked if we were going to go.  We didn't make it too often last summer, but I figured it was worth another shot.  So far we're batting 2 for 2 - yay us!  The music has been low key and folksy, but it's an excuse to get to the library, sit in the sun, and let the kids run around.  I hope the weather continues to allow us this enjoyment for the rest of the season!

P.S. - Lincoln & Grandma were with us too.  I'm not sure how they escaped my fantastic iPhone lens.  Next week.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mommy's Idea of Camping

The back porch is a lovely place.  Look at this view!  I recently bought a new pop up in 60 seconds tent (which really does set up in 60 seconds, BTW) and decided to put it up on the back porch for the kids to sleep in.  Two out of three of them made it through the night.  My oldest thought it was a bit too windy and the noises were a bit too suspicious, so he came back in to join me in bed (Matt was out of town).  I don't blame him though - I had a very active imagination when imagining danger as a child too!  We did all enjoy Facetime with Matt, popcorn, and some reading time together though!

Jake and Viva are ready to move out there and set a world record for numbers of days in a tent.  Grandma told them they should get some cold weather gear because they'll probably need to be out there when the snow is flying to hit their goal.... :)  Sadly for them they can't get started on this admirable project until I find a better way to secure the tent to the porch (perhaps wrapping rope around the deck slats and securing at the stake areas?)  - the wind picked up in the morning after the over night adventure and was moving our tent around.  I had visions of the poles going straight through my lovely windows and took the tent down pronto!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Newest Rat-a-Tat Fan

Lincoln's favorite game, as of lately, is Rat-a-Tat Cat.  He insists "me do it MYSELF" when asked if he wants to play on someone's team.  He seems to understand the basic rules of the game - which cards to look at, swapping out cards, and tapping when you're ready to "go out".  He identifies the high and lower pointers too!  As for adding up his score?  Although he is admittedly brilliant we're not quite there yet... :)  He does, however say, "I WON!" at the end of each game.  So it's all good.

Isn't that a cute face to sit across from at game time?  I'm lucky!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Garage Sale Junkie

Genevieve and I went out to check out a neighborhood garage sale this past weekend.  Sometimes I forget how much Viva enjoys shopping, but my Mom called on her way to an appointment and mentioned there was a big sale near here that Viva might like - I'm glad she motivated me!  

Viva had a great time and enjoyed telling EVERYONE all about her treasures that she obtained for a grand total of $3 - I think I may have found a reason to rekindle my love of the bargain hunt in this fun little companion who's full of such enthusiasm!

What did she find herself?  A very sparkly bag, a teddy bear, a book, a piggy bank, and a cupcake.  I found her a lovely hair bow to go with it all, and I found 7 pairs of shoes for the boys in great condition - a satisfying way to spend a morning!  Fun times with my favorite little girl and some great buys to go with it.  Win win.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Science: Physics (Part 2)

Viva loves science. She is very hands on. Jake likes it well enough. Bentley is the least enthused about science, but he enjoys most of the experiments we do.

Chapter 6: Electricity
Experiment 6: Sticky Balloons
Electricity comes from electrons as they move from atom to atom transferring from one item to another. To demonstrate this principle we used balloons. The trio rubbed their balloons against different objects (their head, a wooden desk, an aluminum cookie sheet, a wool sweater, etc.) and then they stuck the balloon on the wall and observed how long it stayed on the wall. The longer it stuck the more electrons that had been transferred. Unfortunately for us, everything in the house had a high electron transfer rate--our home is too dry and static electricity was everywhere and on everything. Although this experiment did not work well, the trio loved playing with the balloons.


Chapter 7: Moving Electrons
Experiment 7: Moving Electrons
This lesson was about insulators and conductors. Instead of making a lemon battery (as the manual suggested) we used Opa's voltmeter to see which objects were good conductors (metal) and which objects were poor conductors (plastics).

Chapter 8: Magnets
Experiment 8: Magnet Poles
Magnetic force is caused by spinning electrons. Magnets have opposite poles. In the experiment portion of the lesson we played with magnets which is always fun. (It would have been nice to have some really strong magnets.)

Chapter 9: Light and Sound
Experiment 9: Splitting Light
Sound is a wave of moving air molecules. Light is an electromagnetic wave. Electromagnetic waves are a tough concept. First we tried exploring the nature of waves by playing with water in the bathtub. It's hard to create a whirlpool! Then we used a light prism to split sunlight into its different colored wavelengths. We had a hard time with this experiment. We could not find enough strong sunlight (it was a cloudy day!) to get a good split of light into all the colors. We managed a few faint rainbows, but that's all. We could not get a flashlight to split light through the prism. Not the best experiment.

Chapter 10: Saving Energy
Experiment 10: Playing with Physics
Energy is neither created or destroyed; it is converted from one form to another. Another difficult experiment. All four of us tried and tried, but no one could build a card house. I tried different decks of cards. It was aggravating. Finally I used thin cardboard to build the house over the dish of vinegar. We were not able to get the baking soda to drop into the dish even when we did manage to knock the house down. This experiment was not well designed.

Although the last few experiments in the physics course were not to our liking, we enjoyed the other experiments. The lessons were very well written with some good information, but so much it overwhelmed young minds.