Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Art

The older three had their first joint sleep over at Grandma Vicki's the day before Thanksgiving, and had a great time!  Here is a sampling of the Thanksgiving themed art they brought home:

Bentley's ship:

Jake's ship (or is it a flying blimp?  hmm....)

Viva's sunset landscape:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Nutcracker Ballet!

As is their tradition Jake and Viva checked out The Nutcracker Ballet this past Friday with Grandma Karen - Bentley was supposed to go too, but unfortunately we've had a 2nd round of the stomach bug visit our household this past week and Bentley was rather under the weather that day.  I was impressed with Viva and Grandma Karen's ability to coordinate outfits so well:

By all reports it was a great time!  It's a fun holiday tradition for them!  (Luckily, Grandma Karen was able to recruit a replacement for Bentely at the last minute - her sister's granddaughter - so the seat didn't go to waste!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Questionnaire Tuesday

What are three things you really enjoy doing?

Bentley: chess, bowling, karate, and swimming in warm pools
Jake: weapons class, legos, and ice skating
Genevieve: gymnastics, reading, and doing crafts

What are three things that you're good at?

Bentley: chess, karate, and swimming
Jake: swimming, playing games, karate, and building Legos
Genevieve: gymnastics, crafts, and reading

What are three of your favorite foods?

Bentley: bread sticks, plain noodles, and steak
Jake: lasagna, chili, and cinnamon chip or swirl bread
Viva: spaghetti, cake, and lime popsicles

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Evan at Two

Some random (and fascinating to me, but maybe not you!) facts about Evan:

1) He detests sharks.  Which is a shame since he has two cute shark shirts that he refuses to wear.  I believe it has something to do with a shark tub toy and his father's idea of humor that was not humorous to the two year old.

2) He has, in the words of Grandma, the temper of Jake and the stubbornness of Viva.  It's a might package in such a small creature.  I am often tempted to give in to him to keep the peace, but I try my best not to!

3) He LOVES ice cream and fruit snacks.  It would be interesting, for the sake of science, to see just how much ice cream (and how many bags of fruit snacks?!) he would eat if allowed to self regulate.  In the interest of being a good parent I've resisted the urge to find out, however.  :)

4) When he is upset he juts his front jaw forward and clenches it.  It's awfully cute even if he is trying to look fierce.

5) He still loves his giraffe-blankie.  He carries it everywhere and hasn't yet slept a night without it in his two year long life!  I couldn't find it last night and it was a rough hour or two until super Dad tracked it down when he made it home.  Probably trying to atone for his part in creating the shark situation (see #1 above).  :)

6) He has almost graduated to being called Evan, and not just baby!  This past month Lincoln has finally mastered Evan's name.  So now we can move on from calling him baby and refer to him as the Evan creature!

7) He has awesome jumping and somersaulting skills.  He attempts headstands but isn't quite there.  We try to cut him some slack since he's only two.  :)

Lastly, the bonus final fact:

He's brilliant.  I may be biased but we think this kid is a genius!

Love you, Evan baby!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Library Preschool Story Time

The library has a preschool story time--six or seven sessions every week. Kara and I took the older three a few times when they were younger. Maybe Lincoln went as a baby with them; I can't remember that long ago. I can tell you that once Evan came along, we stopped going. The older children would have been reaching the upper age limit and it was just too chaotic to take five children to story hour when only one of them was age appropriate. Such is the downside of being number four in a large family. (Fortunately there are a lot of upsides to compensate for any downsides.)

The point is that Evan had never been to story hour. I took him and Lincoln two weeks ago. The purpose of the trip wasn't to attend story hour, but when I realized that we would be arriving at the right time I decided to attend with the little boys. Both Lincoln and Evan were quite entertained by the librarian and the three dozen plus toddlers with their parents. 

Just two weeks later we found ourselves back at the library in the morning again! Lincoln, Evan, I and Viva attended story hour! Jake, Bentley, and Kara joined us afterwards and the older children searched out some new reading material.

The library is an awesome place to visit.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Aunt Jean Visits

Great Aunt Jean has come to town for four days to attend a friend's wedding and to see her family (that's us!). Viva had her helping with grammar and Bentley challenged her to a geography quiz. He graciously let her study a U.S. map for fifteen minutes and then they both took a quiz on where the fifty states are on a U.S. map. Jean did quite well for only fifteen minutes of review. She scored 37. Then they took a quiz on state capitols. Jean again scored 37. Bentley scored 50 on both tests, but I heard him making excuses about a lack of writing space so he wrote Jefferson instead of Jefferson City. Jean is a good sport to take on our young geographer!

(Kara and I were surprised earlier this week to discover that B knows where the states are on a map and the state capitols. When asked where he learned that information he said from an iPad game app!)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Party Room!

Earlier this month Opa went to Michigan for a week to visit his family. While he was gone our bedroom was turned into a slumber party room. This came about because I'm a grandma and I hate to say no to my grandchildren.

Bentley came in the first afternoon Opa was gone and asked if he could sleep in our bed that night since Opa was gone. I said sure. An hour later Jake came in and asked the same question. I told him Bentley had already asked about tonight, so he'd have to wait until tomorrow night. A half hour after that Viva came in and asked to spend the night. I told her she'd have to wait for two nights because her brothers had already talked to me. She burst into tears. (She was still recovering from the flu and rather fragile.)

The thing is Viva seldom asks for special privileges. I felt really badly that she was at the end of the list. Again. So I told the kids they could all sleep in our room that night, although only one of them could sleep on the bed. We have a comfy couch in our room that the children sometimes sleep on (maybe once a month--much, much less often for Viva) and we had a spare twin mattress in our room that week because of the kids being sick the week before.

The end result is that I had three guests in my room most nights while opa was gone. I asked them how all of them sleeping in my room was different than all of them sleeping in their room--just next door!--in their comfy beds? They said it just was. 

The spare mattress on the floor was an irresistible draw for the little boys during the day. They insisted on jumping on it. I moved it away from my bed with its footboard because I was worried someone would get hurt. Evan still managed to smash into the footboard and acquire a huge fat lip. After that I tried storing the mattress upright:

I rearranged the room, pulling the couch out of the alcove because it's very cold there at night. The little boys were able to set up a train layout and leave it set up for a few days.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Paid with Smiles

Living with my grandchildren is a great blessing. Lincoln and Evan and I did this puzzle together. I have a very good life!

Their hands are a little blurry because they were pounding on the puzzle while I was taking the photo. Little boys are very active...and very noisy...and very, very cute.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Evan the Imp

We have mentioned before that Evan loves iPhones and iPads. He snatches iPhones whenever he can, but after a while he loses interest in them because we haven't made them kid friendly. iPads are another matter. If they are kept out of his sight, life is easier for everyone because no matter how much time he gets on an iPad he wants MORE and he gets angry when we take it away. The easiest solution is to never give him one. Unfortunately that's not possible when the older children are doing their schoolwork. They use their iPads for many different subjects. During the school day iPads are littered across the downstairs and Evan sometimes grabs one when it's left unattended. 

I leave my phone upstairs on my nightstand some mornings. Evan occasionally drifts upstairs during the day and when he does he stops in my bedroom and if my iPhone is on the nightstand, he grabs it. He always (so far!) brings it to me. It's locked so he can't get to the main screens and therefore it's not much fun to play with. Unfortunately he can still access the screen that puts the phone into airplane mode. He's done that a few times and it takes me a while to figure it out. Next time the boy hands me my iPhone I need to check immediately to see what he's done.

When your phone is in airplane mode you can't send or receive text. The other day I went to the airport to pick Mark up after his trip to Michigan. I texted him when I got to the cell phone lot and received a message of "text not delivered". I figured this was because Mark had his phone in airplane mode as he was still on the plane. After sitting in the lot for fifteen minutes and not hearing from Mark, I tried to call him and found out that my phone was the one in airplane mode. Mark had been trying to contact me for fifteen minutes. Such is life with a toddler like Evan. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Legos: Minifigures

In early October Lego put out their latest minifigure series, Series 12. The boys read about them online and started campaigning to visit the store to purchase their favorite ones. I wasn't looking forward to it because it had been months since I'd had to do the blind feel game on minifigure pouches and I was out of practice. I told Bentley and Jake that they would have to come with me and help find the minifigures they wanted. I picked them up from Guidos (ukulele night) one Friday and we went to Fred Meyer's and spent an hour feeling the foil pouches to figure out which minifigure was inside.

Bentley chose four minifigures: Wizard, Hun Warrior, Prospector, and Genie Girl. Viva chose three: Dino Tracker (a girl), Genie Girl and Battle Goddess. She did not chose Fairytale Princess! She said she has other minifigures that look similar. Jake chose four: Wizard, Space Miner, Piggy Guy and Jester. As usual I paid for two and they purchases any in excess of that. The price for minifigures has gone from $3 to $4. That's a 33% increase!

I have not offered to purchase Lincoln or Evan any minifigures. I have joked that when they are older, I will give them my collection. Lincoln loves to play with my collection. After we got the new ones, he spent a number of afternoons (after his short nap/rest) playing in my bedroom with various minifigures. His favorites are Piggy Guy and Batman.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Flu Update

The children were getting better when I last posted, but then they relapsed. Not a full relapse, but they are not yet fully mended. The older ones skipped swimming this week, but they did go to karate, cub scouts, and gymnastics. They are better than last week, but not back to normal. The younger two have stayed sick--runny noses, bad cough, on and off fever, and up half the night. Kara debated taking Lincoln in to the doctor's today, but decided to wait after talking to the nurse. This is a very nasty flu. (Quite frankly most illness are quite nasty while you in the midst of them!)

Legos: The Castle

Bentley and Jake started building a Lego fortress complex in late September. Bentley did most of the building, but Jake was a vital part because he located all the needed Lego pieces. (Jake knows where all the many, many specialty Lego pieces are stored. Bentley only has a general idea of where they might be.) They brainstormed ideas together. They created storylines to go with their fortress. They wouldn't let us look at it until they were finished with it, but as often happens with such projects that time never arrived. They worked on it diligently for a couple of weeks and then got distracted by other projects. It sat in the family room for a month after that until one day Evan was walking backwards and tripped over it which destroyed parts of it. Such is life when you have toddlers in your home.

I had taken two quick photos before Evan tumbled on it, but I had planned on taking more with better lighting and different angles. Those two photos will have to do along with two close-ups taken a.e. (after Evan).

I asked the boys to tell me about their fortress complex. They told me that each base plate contained a different scene. Two plates were connected: the castle in the jungle on one base plate and the secret back entrance to the castle on a second base plate. The third base plate contained the pirate's lair which was located on a sea across from the jungle.

The castle had two tall turrets. One turret had a dungeon under the bed (bedroom?), the other a bathroom. Bentley created his own gate for the castle.

The disguised, secret entrance to the castle was well designed. The boys covered it in leaves. If an invader made it through the disguised entrance, they would be greeted by a swinging sword and then four spinning blades. They built a rocky outcropping (AKA small mountain) next to the secret entrance. The guards were placed on top of this structure. Inside was the castle's treasure. If the castle proper was plundered, the invaders would discover they had been tricked. 

My favorite design element is the big wave on the sea by the pirate's lair.

Bentley and Jake were proud of their castle with its secret entrance and neighboring pirate's lair. They both described it as cool. I agree with them. It was a COOL fortress complex!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


We always love showing off the artwork of our young artists! Today we feature Lincoln (top), Jake (middle), and Bentley's (bottom) drawings from 11-2-14.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wind Work

Sunday night we had some wild Chinook winds rip through our property. Although we don't have many leaf bearing trees in our front yard, the wind carried lots of leaves from the neighbors' trees and deposited them in a couple of large puddles on the driveway. The boys went out with me to clean them up in case the puddles froze solid and the leaves became part of the landscape until next spring.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's Fall. It's Flu Time.

Someone--we aren't for sure who--brought the flu into our home last week. It could have been Kara returning from Paris with Matt. They spent hours and hours on crowded planes. She didn't feel well most of last week. Then Bentley came down with it. He had a horrible cough and low energy for four or more days. Jake acquired the bug and he didn't get a bad cough which is surprising given his tendency to respiratory illnesses. Instead he threw up in the middle of the night on my big sofa chair. He took a few days to fully recover. Viva didn't get a bad cough or throw up, but she was listless for days and ran a fever more than once. Evan threw up once and because of that he wasn't allowed to have milk at bedtime and that made him furious. He has a runny nose and is quite cranky at times. Lincoln had the mildest case--although now that I think about it, Kara might disagree. He kept her up one night with his coughing and malaise. Even Great-grandma got sick! She usually doesn't pick up what the children have, but this time she did. She stayed downstairs for two days, but was back upstairs yesterday. I don't think I got sick from this bug, but I haven't totally shaken off whatever virus it is that has been playing inside my head for two months. Opa is in Michigan and he's coming down with it. We hope he doesn't share it with family there. Although he might have already shared it on the plane trip down...which would take this flu bug back to where it came from!

Monday, November 10, 2014

We Love Trains

Bentley and Jake liked the train set when they were little, but not as much as Lincoln and Evan. Lately there is a new set of tracks out every day. When we won't help them, they haul the tracks, bridges, and tunnels out on their own. Lincoln can get a layout started, but he can't quite make it all connect into one big loop, so at some point he starts bugging us: "I want it to around and around and around." His persistence always pays off and someone helps him complete his track.

Sometimes their track layouts are hazardous (see above). Lincoln and Evan think it's hilarious when the trains run off the unfinished track. We have to keep an eye on Evan because he likes to make the battery operated engines go head to head which will cause engine burn out.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Las Vegas Adventures

Bentley, Jake, and Viva travelled to Las Vegas to spend five days with Grandma Karen helping her celebrate her 60th birthday! They had quite a bit to say about their trip right after they returned. I tried to record as much as I could of what they said. It's not easy when you have three children talking at the same time! Here's what they shared:


J: Don't eat the sandwiches. He ate one with parsley on it and it hurt his mouth. (Viva said it was a jalapeno pepper, not parsley.)

J: Don't drink apple juice. You have to go to the bathroom too much. 

J: Don't have a nose bleed. (It took a pint of hydrogen peroxide to clean his shirt and pants.) 

B: "The only good part was the digiplayer. They didn’t have snacks. They didn't bring chips." (J & V had food on both flights; B didn't like the menu.) 

B: "They didn't have puke bags on the plane, so it's good I didn't puke. It's good Jake didn't puke because he would have puked on me."


"Isn't it cool that we all got a gift from the same gift shop there?" B chose a dagger and Viking helmet. J chose a penguin he named Boo because he got him near Halloween (which I find amusing because it's decorated in Christmas colors). V chose a nail polish set. She's already used it twice and she says she did a much better job the second time. The gift store had lots of cool stuff--dress-ups and wizard staffs with orbs at the top that lit up.

They attended a dinner show there, The Tournament of Kings. They ate food with their fingers. B had J help him tear the meat off his small chicken until he figured out how to do it himself. B says it wasn't a small chicken, it was a turkey leg. ?! B didn't get to eat as much as he wanted because the bad guy came with fire and it was scary and he had to shut his eyes and cover his ears and he couldn't eat then--for probably half the show! Viva says she only ate the potatoes. 

There was fire erupting from the ground that was real scary. Sparks flew sometimes when they hit the swords. At the end of the show firecrackers flew from the front of the room to the back. There were cannons that shot. There were kings from Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Russia, Austria, and Dragon (the evil one.) Their king was Irish. The kings jousted and they threw spears at a target. They chopped heads off of pretend people--fake heads balanced on beams. When both riders stayed on the horses, they had to fight on the ground with their helmets off--according to J. B says the helmets were only off because they flew off and in another joust one of the knights had his helmet on. The king from Ireland was taller than opa! 

J: The jester was really funny. He had a loop around his middle that made it look like a spear had gone through him. "Ha, ha, ha, ha!"

V says she liked the fighting part when they fought with real swords. I asked her if there were any girls in the production and she said not a single girl except for the dancers. I asked if the dancers were dressed in clothes from the same time period as the kings. She said there were maids and hula girls. Hula girls? I asked if they had grass skirts on, she said no, normal skirts. [V is being uncooperative. She is reading a fairy tale book and doesn’t like it when I interrupt her.]


We had rings that we dove after and golf balls, too. (There was a three hole driving range set up next to the pool.) Shane and Hans threw us into the pool like they were a diving board, kind of. Once Hans picked us up from the side and threw us like it was a high dive. 

V: "The pool was delightfully warm, especially the hot tub." Grandma Karen said the pool temperature was in the 90s! The children spent hours in the pool. The pool was in the shade, so no sunscreen was needed. SCORE!

J like jumping in the pool and doing cannonballs. V said she liked swimming and diving for rings. B said they learned some new swimming tricks like how to do a better cannonball. You only raise one knee up. Shane and Hans taught them the dolphin kick. J reported: "It is not allowed in the Olympics." The dolphin kick is fast B said, but J disagreed.


B & J played grass hockey with golf clubs and golf balls trying to hit the ball into each other's hole. (Good use of the three hole driving range.)


They saw lots of bunnies at the miniature golf course. They were all over. The course had nine holes and a pond or lake or short river and a small waterfall. It had some harder holes that went down and curved. There were sand pits. No one won; no one got a hole in one. B did get one in two strokes. B: "More than one in two. Definitely more than three in three and four in five." (Huh?) 


J: We visited that line...The Strip and we visited that pyramid from Giza, the Luxor, and the Eiffel Tower." B: "And the Statue of Liberty" "And The Golden Gate Bridge." J: "The London Bridge!" B: "No, the Golden Gate. It started with a G or B." [The bridge argument went on for some time and got quite heated. FYI: There is a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge on The Strip.] J: "And the space needle." B: We didn't visit that, we saw it. V made us miss out on visiting the Space Needle because she really needed to go to the bathroom so we had to go home." 

Viva liked how The Strip looked at night when all the buildings were lit up. Bentley said it was colorful and bright. Jake added wondrous.

Viva bought a pink and purple souvenir key chain of the famous Las Vegas Strip neon sign. She really likes it. Oddly enough her mom came home from Paris with a souvenir key chain with the Eiffel tower on it. We are not a family that collects key chains, so this was an odd coincidence!


J: "We kind of climbed red rock" B: "No, we did not. We walked ten feet down a pathway." J: "No, twenty." B: "No, just a small way. I wanted to climb half of red rock."


J: "We went to a small park. It was a water park and a woodland park. It had small slides. I didn't like it the first day, but the second day Bentley convinced me and I loved it because I was so hot. I took my shirt off and got cooled down."

V: "It was very wet, especially when I got wet." "I loved all the logs--not real logs, plastic ones--especially since you got to climb them. There was a rock you got to climb, a super huge one. Well, not super huge, but it was a big one." J: "Like the Lion's King rock." Me: "Huh? What Lion King's rock?" V: "From the movie." Duh.  V: (more on the woodland playground) "It was bumpy, stonish, plasticish. There are ridges you can hold on to and climb." 

B: "It was supposed to be based on wood stuff or a mine because it had cool tunnels and bridges." [He mentioned boarded over holes like in abandoned mines.] "I don't know what it was themed on. They had a small water park next to it that I ran through with all my clothes on. I ran through it six or seven times or eight. I had my dry quick stuff on. Whenever I feel like we're going to do something wet, I put them on." "At the park they had a lot of water fountains. They were all over. We never had to get really thirsty. If someone said I need some water, ten feet away there's a water fountain or a bathroom."


B: "We played lots of pool. I won six times and lost five times kind of...we shouldn't count the fifth time because Shane and Hans played a three way game and I didn't understand it. I still don't."

J: " I won against Grandma Karen and Bentley one time. It was great. We invented a game where you just use your hands and throw the balls into each others' holes." Grandma Karen told them if you get your hand hit you can't complain about it.

V: When I asked if she played any pool in Las Vegas: "Not real pool, but I pushed the ball into the hole. Bentley is the best pool player." When asked why she isn't better, she said "I barely ever do it." 


B: "I found out an interesting thing about Jake. He suddenly has an interest in Pirate Booty." Opa: "What's pirate booty?"  B: "It's a weird type of food." When J read what B told me, he denied liking Pirate Booty.

The children took a camera on vacation with them. They didn't take many photos. They did not get a photo of them with Grandma Karen!! 

Megan and Sarah flew down with the kids and stayed for a few days. 

B on the Driving Range!

The Luxor Hotel

The Excalibur & Bentley's head

The Las Vegas Strip!

The Trio with the very tall Irish King from the dinner show at the Excalibur

The Excalibur Hotel at night

The Statue of Liberty…on The Strip!
(Both B & J claim they took this shot!)

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Trouble Times Two

Last week I needed to drop by a guild meeting to hand in three quilts I and Gladys (my longarm) had worked on. Kara and Matt were out of town so I had to take Lincoln and Evan with me. I wanted the boys to look super cute so I picked out a pair of matching, nicer shirts and cords for them to wear. 

Lincoln was not happy with my choice. He did not want to wear that shirt. I made him wear it anyway. He threw a fit. Evan wasn't any happier with my choice. I made him wear it anyway. He threw a fit. I told the boys that they could stay in their bedroom screaming as long as they wanted. When they were ready to be nice, they could come out and we'd go downstairs and get breakfast.

I went in my bedroom and worked on the computer. After five or so minutes I heard Lincoln, "Grandma Julie, we are ready to go downstairs." I went in their bedroom and this is what I found:

Who knew they could get button down shirts off? They did not rip the buttons off, Lincoln unbuttoned them. Bentley certainly could not do that at age three. They changed their shirts--Lincoln admitted to helping Evan. I conceded shirt choice to them. (Technically, I had not told they couldn't change their shirts. *sigh*)

Friday, November 07, 2014

Everyday Life: October

It is way past time to clear out my photo folders. Life has been very hectic this fall.

Bentley is testing out one of Evan's birthday gifts: Bill Ding the Original Balancing Clowns.

Evan is practicing his own balancing act.

Our little ninjas at the local school playground. 
They are so adorable!

Evan serving himself cereal and raisins…or should I say raisins and cereal?

Lincoln and Evan doing puzzles!

Viva baking!

Favorite Activities!
Bentley and Jake playing Minecraft on their iPads.
Viva reading. Ramses napping.

Bentley baking!

Cutie pie drawing on paper!
(And not on the table, chair or whiteboard which he occasionally does.)

Lincoln playing with…a cool building toy!

Lincoln enjoys the tire swing on a cool fall day.