Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sand Art

Last Saturday Jake was wondering around the house bored, looking for something to do. I played a game of cards with him and then I hauled out a sand art craft kit we've had for a couple of years. Jake wasn't wildly enthusiastic, but he was willing to give it a try. He picked out a bottle (second to the left in the photo) and started filling it with sand. Sand dust particles clung to the sides of the bottle which was very annoying, so Jake poured the sand out and I washed the bottle. It didn't help at all; the dust still clung to the sides of the bottle, but now in addition there were fine water droplets. !!! This was not a high end sand art kit. 

Jake continued to work on the project, but with waning interest. Viva came over and (of course) was very interested, so Jake took a break and Viva filled two bottles (the two on the right). She would have filled the last one, too, but I said she had to give Bentley a chance. He said he wanted to try it and he filled the final bottle in the kit. Jake finished filling his bottle and we got to throw the kit box away. We have a little more space on that craft shelf now. YES! And the children were happy with their final products. That was good, too!

I showed the kids some online photos of sand art. There are some amazing bottled sand artists! 

I cannot comprehend how they make the intricate designs they do. Crazy!

Lincoln and Evan have their own sand to play with. It's called kinetic sand: 98% sand and 2% polymer. The ads claim it sticks to itself and not to you, but after the kids have played with it we find bits of it all over the table, chair, and floor, so it's not mess free by any means. They can mold it and it holds its shape which is nice. I think it's kind of freaky because instead of flowing like normal sand, it oozes in a most unnatural manner. Lincoln and Evan like playing with it.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Karate Practice

Bentley and Jake are preparing for a karate tournament in Las Vegas in early April. They have taken a few private lesson from the sensei. They have mixed feelings about private lessons because the sensei works them hard--they have to hold their kata stances for as long as possible which causes their muscles to burn which they don't like. Kara talked to some of the other parents and got the same story: karate class = fun and karate lesson = too much work.

During one private lesson Kara took two old yoga mats and marked on them with duct tape where the correct foot positions are for different stances so that the boys could better practice at home. It has been quite amusing watching the younger two boys attempt the stances!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jake & Daddy's Vacation: Hawaii!

Jake is off on an adventure with Daddy to Hawaii.  They are spending some time in Kona and Kauai.  Jake has been sick but (thankfully) was on the road to recovery, albeit not quite there, when they hopped on the plane Sunday night!

I hope Jake enjoyed his red eye... because they hit the ground running.
I quizzed him on the phone this morning, and this is what he told me. 
I've gone to the temple, and Daddy got a pretty nice picture of that.

Let me think.... I've gone to Volocanoes National Park.  I liked it.  There is a picture of me standing in front of the big volcano hole where lava comes out. 

Today we are eating fruit salad.  It has bananas, pineapple, and canteloup and honey dew in it.  It's good. We saw turtles on the beach.  (Turtle blobs on the right behind Jake!)

 Today we are going to the ukulele shop and the beach!

And, of course, they have been walking all over.  :)

Whew!  And they're only on day three!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lego Lincoln

Lincoln continues to be fascinated with Legos. He builds some of his own creations, but he also really likes building with his father, his brothers, or his opa. He still has a hard time putting the smaller pieces together and/or pressing the bricks tightly enough together so when he has a kit with smaller parts that he wants to build he recruits help. He is working on multiple sets. He has a monkey set he's doing with his father, there is another set he's building with his opa, and recently he had Jake build his dump truck for him. Jake isn't always patient enough to build with Lincoln. He usually ends up just building the set himself while Lincoln sits next to him.

Lincoln has been spending a lot of time playing with my minifigures. He particularly likes my set of 25 Star Wars figures that came with the Death Star. On Monday when he was playing with them I took the Death Star down from a high closet shelf and put it where he could play with it. He spent hours in the bathroom playing with the minifigures on the Death Star. He invited Bentley to come and play.

The following day he decided to put the Star Wars figures away and give Batman and Superman a chance to explore the Death Star. He even had Harry Potter check it out. (How do you think Harry's wand would fare against a lightsaber?)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Report

Last week I asked the children what they were currently reading and enjoying or what they had recently finished reading.

Viva told me that she recently finished "the best book she's ever read." It was Mission Unstoppable in The Genius Files series by Dan Gutman. The series is about twelve year old twins Coke (boy) and Pepsi (girl) McDonald who uncover a secret government plot to use Young American Geniuses (YAG) to solve the complex problems of the nation. They are on the YAG list!

Bentley said he had recently read all 6 books out so far in the Wings of Fires series by Tui T. Sutherland. He's waiting for the 7th to be released in June. The series is about dragons. He was currently reading The Menagerie #2: Dragon on Trail by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland. (It seems that Tui Sutherland really likes dragons!)

Jake has been reading The Bible starting with the Old Testament. He set a goal to finish reading it by his birthday. I asked if he was reading any kid books and he said his current read was a Magic Tree House series book titled Danger in the Darkest Hour. Jake could not only give me the title, but the author: Mary Pope Osborne.

Lincoln said his favorite books are about the Berenstain Bears. I did not ask Evan, but my guess would be any alphabet book. He loves pointing out the letters.

I took the photos after the interview and by then Bentley and Viva had moved on to new book series!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Round Table Puzzle

Kara purchased a Round Table Puzzle for the children to piece. It is a circular puzzle. The puzzle company claims that everyone has the best view of the puzzle. It is true that no one has a better view than anyone else, so I guess you could call it the best view. For me it's a little disorienting to look at. I am not sure I like it.

Bentley, Jake, and Viva (and Kara?) started on the puzzle together. They sorted the pieces and pieced the border working on the schoolroom table. Then over the next few days they finished the puzzle by doing a little at a time. It was a 500 piece puzzle and they pieced it faster than I expected. I helped out some. I think Bentley did the most work, but the twins did some piecing. Kara also worked on it a little.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Flu Report

Our household has been plagued the past few weeks with a seasonal flu. It started with Bentley just before and on his birthday. Evan and Lincoln had runny noses for a while. I remember that, but I also remember that Lincoln at some point in the past few weeks went to the doctor because of croup and he got a prescription to help him. It did the job. 

Jake was sick, too. He got to sleep in his mom's bed two nights in a row (Matt was gone on a business trip) and that made Bentley mad (Bentley's turn was co-opted by Jake), so I let Bentley (and Viva) slumber party in our room.

Two weeks ago Evan was running a fever on and off for days. He was super ornery (more on that in another post). Kara took him to the doctor after a week, but they said he didn't have anything they could treat him for: Being super ornery is just how some two years are.

Jake started getting sick (again!?) this past week. He broke down at karate. Kara didn't realize he was sick yet or she wouldn't have taken him. Yesterday Kara refused to let him go to karate and to spend the afternoon at Grandma Karen's. He was running a fever and he gets on a plane tonight to go to Hawaii with his dad. He needs to get better quickly

Kara had the flu (chills, fever, headache) for a few days. Mark and I had mild cases compared to the rest of the household. I think Matt missed out, maybe because he has been on five (six?) business trips since the start of the year and was thus able to avoid the germs in our home. Great-grandma seldom gets sick. I am not sure what her secret is. (If you move only a little do you breathe in less infected air?!)

Kara is paranoid that Viva is getting sick. Viva has a gymnastics meet this coming weekend. Kara is also watching Bentley closely, but isn't he the one who started this latest round of the flu? Do we have enough people in our household to morph the flu into another strain of it?

I feel like someone in the house has been sick all winter, but when I look back at past blog posts I see that it was early November that we last struggled with a household flu epidemic. We had a couple of good months before we again succumbed!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Weather Report

Anchorage averages 74.5" of snowfall over the course of the winter season. We are way behind this year with just 20.3 inches. It is a terrible year for winter sports enthusiasts. The local ski resorts opened late. The Iditarod race start was moved from Willow to Fairbanks (a major change). The Fur Rondy Sled Dog Race hasn't yet been canceled, but it will be if we don't see more snow. It rained today which made it very treacherous to be out and about.

Although we are on track to have the lowest snowfall season on record, that could still change. One of the biggest snow storms (26.7") Anchorage has had fell on St Patrick's Day in 2002. The record for seasonal low snowfall is 30.4" set in 1957-58. (The record seasonal high is 134.5" recorded just three short years ago.)

How does this affect our household? We aren't skiers or snowmachiners, so we haven't lost out there. We managed to get out sledding twice. The kids would have enjoyed more snow. They started to pile snow for a fort, but it's long gone. I don't know that the children at this point in their lives care if there is a little or a lot of snow during a winter season. We adults find it darker and drearier without good snow cover outside. And while the roads have not been snowy, they have been icy which is worse. I wish we had had more snow. 

Update: The Fur Rondy Sled Dog Race was canceled. *sigh*

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Great-grandma has a routine. She wakes up early and listens to talk radio. Sometimes she crochets or knits while listening. She has a supply of yogurt and breakfast bars downstairs that she eats for a morning snack. She comes upstairs between eleven and noon. She eats breakfast. She reads the newspaper and does the puzzles in it until late afternoon. During this portion of her day she sits at the dining room table which is situated between the kitchen and family room. 

Bentley, Jake and Viva spend their mornings and early afternoon around the corner in the school room doing math, science, history, writing, spelling, music, art, and whatever other assignments their mother gives them. Lincoln and Evan split their time between interrupting their siblings and playing in the family room next to great-grandma.

Lincoln likes books a lot, so he has great-grandma read to him as many books as she is willing to read.

Evan isn't into books as much as his older brother is, but he loves letters. (I know that seems odd--how can you like letters more than books?!) He likes to point letters out to great-grandma while she reads the newspaper.

He also likes to help her with her sudoku game.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Viva's Valentines

In the past we've done a Valentine's Day craft or two with the children. Needless to say such crafts involve hearts. The children have made hearts from beads and pipe cleaners or clay. We hang the heart decorations on a pink tree. Kara has made a couple of heart chains (one from fabric and one from pipe cleaners) to decorate the staircase or hanging lights. I think we have a paper chain, too.

The past two years Viva has asked to make valentines on her own. Weeks before February 14th she asks me to get out the lace and other decorations and she starts working in her private work space (the mudroom) creating valentines for family members (see first photo below). This year she helped Evan make a valentine (second photo).

I am very thankful for Viva's enthusiasm and that she did a craft with Evan. It is fun to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Everyday Life: January

My favorite puzzle buddies! They are cute and smart!

B reading for pleasure.

Lincoln builds a new Magformer structure every day.

Evan was ecstatic when the camera battery was finally recharged.

Lincoln playing with a game his Dad gave him for Christmas.

Viva doing math. Math builds brains!

Jake doing math. He doesn't need his mom's help (usually), but having her near at hand keeps him on task! Seven year olds are highly distractible.

I miss the days when the children crowded around the computer to watch a history lesson. Kara purchased a larger monitor and mounted it on the wall and now they lounge throughout the school room during history lessons. No more group bonding.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lincoln's Drawings

Lincoln's drawings for the past few months have mostly been swirls with a few circles:

But the past week or two he is getting into a different style of drawing, and he always has very specific stories to go with his pictures!  He brought me this one yesterday and told me it is "Mommy, as a squid, with hair and arms added!":

I'm not sure how I feel about being a squid, but I was nonetheless impressed with the drawing.  I didn't know he knew what a squid looked like... !

He also brought me this one, and told me it is a squirrel:

Not bad, I say!  I wonder if the squirrel has arms or if he was drawing a horizon line like his older siblings have been working on?!  :)

Last, but not last, a portrait of Lincoln and I together.  I'm glad I'm not always a squid in his mind's eye! (Although I'm curious why he is portrayed as a fuzz ball... or is it a porcupine?  Hmm.....)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Jokes from Viva

Today when I picked Viva up from gymnastics I asked my standard "how did it go?", and she said:
"Great!  I made up four new jokes today!"

Who knew... a workout is a good place to think on word plays  So here we have them.  
What did the ear say when he was getting angry?
I'm EAR-itated!

What did the cat say when he wanted his water bottle opened?
Will you please open my CAT-teen?

What did the the human say when the other human asked him what he was doing on the monkey bars?
Oh, I'm just hanging around.

What did the zombie say to the other zombie when they finished their meal?
I love DIE-ning with you!

Love this kid.  She cracks me up!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Micro Chargers!

For Christmas Santa brought the children a new car track set--Micro Chargers. They are very small electronic cars (less than 1 inch) that are charged and then released to speed away at up to 600 miles scale speed. (What is scale speed?!) The older children played with them for a few days and then became distracted with other activities, but Lincoln and Evan played with them quite a bit for the four weeks we had them out on the train table in the main floor family room. They were a super big hit with the missionaries who came for dinner one evening.