Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Saturday Hike

Earlier this summer when my Dad's brother was visiting the kids went on a hike at Flat Top.  That hike created a bit of hike love in Bentley, who often clamors for a Saturday hike since that (fateful?!) day.  :)  I think this is a moment his Father has long been awaiting - a time of hiking buddies that can keep up and challenge him!  I'm not much of a hiker with my bad hip.  Correction: I'm not ANY type of hiker with my bad hip.  :)

Last Saturday Bentley and Matt went out AND took the new little people camera with them.   So here are some pictures from their 6 mile hike.  Not crazy, but not bad for an 8 year old!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Super Cutie...

(... who bears a slight resemblance to some of his siblings.)

Evan was hanging out with Opa last night.  Grandma's off at a quilt retreat, I was doing carpool duty with karate and gymnastics, and Matt was with Bentley and Lincoln at Scouts (what on earth do people with only two adults at their house do?!?!).

So, Evan scored!  He played outside with Opa and inspired Opa to pull out the camera (which has been resting lately, as ukulele has been the activity of choice!).   Love the pictures!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Our Lincoln The Crazy Singer

Lincoln really loves to sing - above is a clip from his "jam session" with Opa last night.  :)  He is awesome at ad lib, and shows great spirit and gusto!  I'm not completely sure I understand it all (something about playing his uke all night, his Daddy, and gummy bears) - but we I love it!  The do da dooooo(s) are my favorite part!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

*Time Warp* Pictures

Not much of a time warp, but if we were to rewind back to the middle of May....

we would discover these lovely shots that never made it to the blog!  :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sticker Project

The other day I was going through our supply of coloring books, activity books, and sticker books. The problem with such books is that after someone has used 20-80% of the pages, no one wants to finish the remaining pages. But since the book still has useable pages, it seems wrong to throw it away. It seems wrong until you run out of shelf space! 

I lugged the rather large stack of sticker, coloring, and activity books downstairs to go through while I watched TV. I sliced the pages out and threw away all the colored on or stickered on pages and made a stack of the unused pages. 

Now I have to find a storage area for a two inch pile of loose coloring pages. The storage spot must be easily accessible so as to encourage its total depletion in a minimum amount of time. Evan colored three of the pages the next morning, but three isn't going to make this pile disappear fast enough

The sticker books were harder to disassemble and sort, but I did it. We now have thirty plus pages of "extra" stickers because hundreds of "extra" stickers come with deluxe sticker activity books. I encouraged the children to use five pages of our stockpile to turn plain newsprint into one-of-a-kind Star Wars gift wrap. 

This project was a big hit with Lincoln and Evan. Viva, too, enjoyed it, but Bentley after asking to join us abandoned the project rather quickly. Evan stayed with it the longest. He only quit because after 20 minutes I was done with unpeeling stickers for him. (He couldn't get them off the sticker sheet, but he was quite good at putting them on the newsprint.)

Kara told me that the stickers will not stay stuck to the newsprint once I started wrapping it around a gift. Do I really care? We can add new stickers--we have twenty-five more pages to squander. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Playground Tally

This summer that is coming to an end wasn't hot like last summer. We only filled the kiddie pool once and used if over the Fourth of July. Our best weather came in May and it was incredible. The perennials went wild! June was Anchorage's second wettest June on record. July, August, and September had good days and drizzly, rainy days.

Last summer we stayed at home most days because Evan was a baby and Lincoln was only 2. It wasn't fun to go to the playground with them and the older children didn't seem to care if we went or not. This summer we hit a lot of playgrounds, taking advantage of almost every nice day we had. Evan and Lincoln love visiting playgrounds. On a good day they logged two playground visits--one with me and another with their father.

I made a list of the playgrounds I (and Kara occasionally) visited with the children. I included any playgrounds that Matt took the children to that I remembered them talking about.

The list included eight elementary school playgrounds. Five are near our home and familiar to us from past summers. Two were new to us (Sand Lake and Bowman) and both of them were fabulous, but further from home. 

The children visited at least eleven different playgrounds in city parks. Their father took them to an awesome one in Talkeetna during a camping weekend. We visited two of the city's newest playgrounds (Polar Bear Playground and the Cuddy Family Park) and both were great, but get crowded. 

I know my count is a little low because I didn't start this list until the end of the summer, so I had to think back through four months of summer fun. It's good to try out new playgrounds because they often have very different equipment. The older children like bars to swing on or climbing walls. All five children like swings and slides. They also like hills to run up and down. They like being active!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Always Crafting!

Viva loves to make things. For her birthday (?) she received several rolls of designer duct tape and a book. She has spent many happy hours creating useful and decorative items from duct tape. When she is not crafting with duct tape, she creates beaded items (bracelets, hairpins) or tissue paper artwork (flowers). 

One day she asked me for some fabric to make herself a shirt. I volunteered to take her to the fabric store to find an easy shirt pattern, but she said she preferred to make her own pattern. She got started right away. She cut out a shirt (with no help from me or Kara) and started sewing it by hand. It was slow going (it was her second or third hand sewing project), so she asked if she could use my sewing machine. She can, but I have to supervise her, so she hasn't gotten back to that project again.

Kara and I rearranged the arts and crafts supplies in the mudroom closet so Viva can have an entire shelf for storing her supplies and works in progress. We also gave her a small table to use for crafting in the mudroom. It is her favorite place to work because the mudroom is off limits to her younger brothers. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Some Swim; Some Run

The other day I scheduled a hair appointment and I forgot that the older children are taking once a week swim lessons with a homeschool group. Once a week doesn't seem like enough frequency, but the trio get to be in the pool for an hour and half sometime during which they have a half hour lesson. Bentley, Jake, and Viva love pool time, so it's a good deal whether or not they learn a lot from the lesson. Of course, we hope they do learn to swim better!

The class meets at East High School. The pool there has a low and a high diving board. Last week both Bentley and Viva went off the high board. Kara tells me that Bentley just walked down the board and jumped. Viva (our usually fearless one) stood at the end of the board and contemplated the foolishness of her decision before finally opting to go through with it. Jake wasn't ready yet for the high board, but he has gone off the lower diving board.

So back to the other day when I double scheduled and didn't have enough time to get home before swim lessons started. I had to meet Kara at East High. We swapped vehicles and she stayed there with the older three while I took the younger two with me. Since we were already on the road, I decided to take Lincoln and Evan over to University Center Mall. When Bentley, Jake, and Viva were younger they loved to go to that mall and run up and down a section of the hall that was at an incline. They would run up and down, up and down, up and down. I always thought it was a little odd how much they liked doing it, but they did, so I thought I'd see what Lincoln and Evan thought about the inclined floor. Sure enough, they were thrilled to run and run and run. Simple pleasures are sometimes the best.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Food Drive

Last week our church participated in a community-wide service project to restock the local food banks. The week prior on scout night Bentley helped roll up fliers and prepare them to be distributed. He even figured out a way to streamline the process and shared it with the other teams. I like the way that boy thinks.

This past Thursday for scouting the three older children and Opa went out with other ward members and put fliers on the door knobs of homes in our ward boundary. The twins weren't technically invited because they aren't eight yet, but we knew any extra pairs of strong, fast legs would be useful so they tagged along. The children had a great time.

On Friday I asked the children if they wanted to go shopping to buy some food to donate to the drive. Jake and Viva wanted to buy some food to donate with their own money, so they went upstairs and raided their piggy banks. They decided to donate $10 each was a significant portion of their savings. Great-grandma donated some funds, too. 

Kara dropped us off at Walmart while she did another shopping errand. Viva was a quick shopper and made her mind up quickly about what she wanted to buy. (I had checked the food bank website before we went so we had some idea of what foods the bank most wanted and we zeroed in on those foods.) Jake had to be prodded to start adding food to the cart before we finished shopping. 

I chose the self-check out lane so Jake and Viva could scan their food. It was fun until one of Viva's quarters incapacited the machine and we had to wait five minutes for the clerk with the keys to come and open the door and then reshut it. Fortunately Kara had rejoined us by then and she took the little ones off to the car. 

On Saturday Mark and Matt went out with other ward members to collect the food left on doorsteps. The boys were at karate, so they didn't go along to help. This was a great community service activity for our family.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Here is a medley of photos featuring our super cutie Evan.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Clay Play

Kara gave Evan and Lincoln Model Magic clay. They grabbed the nearest tools they could find to use on the clay. (See photo above.) I replaced those tools with some clay tools because we have a shoebox filled with such items. Despite all the cool tools they spent most of their time tearing the clay into small hunks.

Viva joined them in playing with clay. She loves clay. What surprised me is that eventually both Bentley and Jake made some clay art, too.

This particular clay is made by Crayola and comes in very well sealed foil pouches. Once you open the pouch the clay starts to dry out which is great if you are done with your project and want it to harden. If you aren't finished or if you have left over clay, then you must double and triple seal it in plastic bags and hope for the best. We'd had this opened clay for months, so it wasn't as good as it once was, but it was good enough to entertain the children! (We highly recommend Model Magic!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Everyday Life: More August

Boy Pile

Great Aunt Karla
She lives in nearby Wasilla so she never stays overnight as a guest and therefore never rates a blog post. She visits us (because we hold her mother hostage) once a month or so.

Evan is checking out what B is watching. 
His siblings do not always welcome his intrusion.

Viva and Lincoln shopping the dollar aisle at JoAnn's.

Cute little devil!

Evan doesn't need help driving the ride-on, but he sometimes get it anyways.


Monday, September 15, 2014

The Green Belt!

On August 18th Bentley received his green belt!  He is very happy, and was very excited about it.  I'm not sure if he is more pleased with the new belt or with the pretty (my word, not his!) scythes he can now use in weapon's class, but either way it is a win.  :)

It was a bittersweet moment for Jake - he did not receive his green belt at the same time.  The move from purple to green is a big deal at our dojo.  It is a combination of good work with stances and leadership ability that lets you progress.  Bentley, being older (and having a different personality!) has really enjoyed leading classes at karate.  His Sensei tells me that he is better at leading classes than some of his black belts are!  Quite impressive for an 8 year old.   He is confident, assertive, loud, engaging, demanding, and knows all the material to cover with no hesitation.  

Bentley leads plenty of classes, because he went to Tanaka a while back (after looking at the chart for how to advance) and told his Sensei that he would like the opportunity to lead.  In particular he led a class on the Saturday before he received his green belt and so impressed his Sensei that he decided Bentley should definitely be a green belt.  The phone rang 10 minutes into class while Bentley was leading warmups, and Tanaka went to answer.  Upon completion of the phone call the Sensei noticed Bentley was doing an awesome job and decided to just stay in his office/observe/see how long Bentley could continue without his help.  Bentley did the whole class, and according to his Sensei did an awesome job with it!

Jake is working on leading classes and developing the assertive nature that you ned to do a good job with that.  It will come with more practice and age, and soon I'll have two green belts!  For now?  We are, of course, super proud of how hard Bentley has worked and how far he's come since starting karate just about a year ago!  He's very focused and determined and it shows.

Sand Lake

Because we had a lot of posts about playgrounds last month, I didn't post right away about this particular one. Sand Lake playground and the park area next to the playground were recommended to me by two different women who I spoke with on school playgrounds. They both said it was their favorite because there was not only great playground equipment, but access to the lake. After visiting the play area twice, I agree with them. Unfortunately this play area is a little too far for us to visit regularly. We need a two hour block of time to drive there, play, and then return home. We don't often have a two hour block of time in the later afternoon when the playground is open to the public because Viva's gymnastics and the boys' karate hem our schedule in.

What is so special about this play area? The playground is small, but very nice with a spider web climbing area and an intriguing modern design seesaw. It rates a solid 4 out of 5. It's the park behind the school that makes this location a must to visit. There is a short path from the playground to Sand Lake. 

The path leads to a boat dock which the local crew club uses to launch their shells (boats). Lincoln and Evan had a great time throwing rocks in the lake. The older children checked out the lake's depth at the end of the dock. I had to pull the children away from the dock area to check out the path leading around the lake. It was a gorgeous walk through green woods. The children explored a side path closer to the lake where they found a fort. 

I first took the children to Sand Lake on a Thursday afternoon. It was a very overcast day, so the children wore their hooded jackets. I should have had them grab their rain coats. About half way through our visit it started raining. The children didn't care. The upside of rainy weather is that we had the playground and lake area to ourselves for most of our visit!

Opa and I took the children back Labor Day weekend. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I expected the area to be crowded, but it wasn't. Was everyone at the state fair?! The first seven and last two photos are from our first trip to Sand Lake. The other photos are from Labor Day weekend.

After our first trip to Sand Lake, I took the children out to dinner at the nearby Tastee Freez. They had burgers and fries and then ice cream cones. (Bentley, of course, did not indulge in the latter.) I look forward to spending some great afternoons next summer at this play area.