Saturday, January 30, 2016

Webelos, Here We Come!

Since Bentley is turning 10 (yikes!) he is moving up to Webelos Scouting.  He just received his Bear at the last pack meeting.  It should be an interesting year - in our church we do Webelos as a one year program instead of two, so it makes for a rather packed schedule!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Folk Festival 2016!

Opa and Jake participated in the Folk Festival again this year with the ukulele group, they sounded great!  They have been practicing their song set for the last two months on Friday nights and Jake has been diligently attending.  He is their youngest (by far!) group member!

Bentley opted out this year and he tells me it is because he didn't love the song selection - I suspect it also had something to do with his strong competitive desire. He hates missing karate and he already has to on Wednesdays for Cub Scouts. Skipping two evenings a week is too much.

Matt was originally slated to be in DC, but due to some winter weather on the East Coast opted to reschedule that trip.  So he was able to join us to go listen!  Lincoln & Evan gave me their best cheesy grins:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Moose Tracks!

This afternoon the children were out in the backyard enjoying the great outdoors when Viva discovered two ice impressions of moose hoof prints. They are about the size of my hand and maybe two inches thick. Frozen in the ice are some pinecones and moss. Very cool find!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Quake: 7.1

Here's the official scoop from our newspaper (Alaska Dispatch News) on the earthquake last night: "The magnitude-7.1 quake struck Sunday, January 24 at 1:30 a.m. and was felt from Juneau to Fairbanks. It was centered under a little-populated area on the west side of Cook Inlet, about 65 miles west of the town of Homer and about 160 miles southwest of Anchorage, and at a depth of 76 miles. The biggest aftershock Sunday was 4.7."

There was no tsunami threat because the quake was so deep. Quakes of this magnitude are not common, but there have been four in Alaska in the last five years. This one was significant because it was near populated areas. Alaska's Earthquake Center detected 40,000 quakes in 2014. 75% of all quakes with a magnitude greater than 5 occur in Alaska. 

It was the strongest earthquake in the south-central region in decades. No lives were lost, but four homes in Kenai were lost to gas leaks caused by the quake. Homes in Anchorage suffered little or no damage. Some businesses lost inventory that was precariously stacked. There was road damage, mostly near Kenai.

I was still awake quilting with the TV on when the quake occurred. I heard it long before I felt it. I shut off the TV and went to check on my mom whose bedroom is downstairs. I talked to her for the minute (or less) that the quake lasted. We discussed what we should be doing during a quake. I'd read that if you are in bed, you should stay in bed.

After the quake ended I went upstairs. The rest of the household had been sleeping, but the adults woke the children up. Everyone in the house--except Viva who fell back asleep immediately--was on an adrenaline rush. The suddenness and unpredictableness of earthquakes has that effect on the human body. We checked the house for damage. A few smaller things fell over (top heavy items) or rolled off shelves (Perplexus puzzle balls). One of our leaning stone columns along the driveway is now leaning even more. There was no significant damage to our home...that we can see. (I think the shower leak we had last year that resulted in us replacing the entire shower might have been caused by earthquake damage.)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Conversations with Lincoln

A few funny things he said yesterday....

The scene: shower time

Evan: I'm not using soap.
me: Yes, you are.
Lincoln: Jesus wants you to use soap, Evan.  Otherwise the police will come and take you away for being smelly.

LOL!  Love that I have him to help keep Evan on track.

The scene: the dinner table

Lincoln: It's driving me crazy!

me: What's driving you crazy?

Lincoln: Everytime I hear the voice.

me: What voice... your voice?

Lincoln: No!

me: My voice?

Lincoln: No.  I think it's the Holy Ghost.

me: Okay... but why would it drive you crazy?  Isn't that a good thing to hear?

Lincoln: It's good, but it still drives me crazy!!!

(Think I should ask him what the Holy Ghost says to him?!)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Education While Knitting

A few days back Jake came upstairs in the evening, after knitting with Great-Grandma, to report that the news was playing a story "over and over and over" all about a police offer who was shot 13 times. We discussed that this wasn't a happy story, and moved on.  The kids don't listen to the news often (ever) as I don't feel there is much value in focusing on the negative when there is so much that is good to think on.  It isn't that I think we can completely ignore the realities of our world, but I don't see any point in dwelling on them - especially for children!

*Back to the point.*

The next evening Jake came home from karate and reported that he was able to put his news of the cop story to good use in class, when Sensei was discussing the news and couldn't remember if 13 or 14 shots were involved - Jake piped up that it was 13, and he remembered it because he heard it on the news while knitting.


A funny visual to ponder, although a very sad story.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Afternoon Snapshot

Evan asked me to put new batteries in his play guitar yesterday.
He had a great time playing with it today.

Lincoln dressed up as a knight and played with the Death Star. 
Evan joined him, but played guitar instead of Legos.

The older children were hard at work in the school room.

Viva was correcting her math lesson.

Jake was finishing his grammar lesson.

Bentley was writing his first five paragraph essay.

When I checked back on the little boys, it was still guitar time for Evan

Lincoln had changed out of the knight costume and grabbed his light saber.

Great-grandma was reading the newspaper.

Lincoln was very sad. I brought up a small size guitar (from the toy closet downstairs) to see if Evan wanted to play a guitar with strings (he didn't). Lincoln wanted me to proclaim that the guitar was HIS, but I said no it was for all the children. Lincoln pouted for a long time.
Meanwhile back in the school room the children had moved on to history. 
While listening to the lecture, Jake ate toast.

Viva knitted and scowled at me for taking her photo. 

Bentley propped himself on the edge of the couch to listen.

Lincoln quit pouting and worked on the Perplexus Rookie puzzle ball.

Evan did a pirate puzzle with me.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Wonderful World of Boys

This afternoon Bentley was vacuuming with an ax tucked in the back of his t-shirt. Kara asked me "Why does Bentley have an ax?" Before I could hazard a guess as to why her oldest son had an ax tucked in his shirt, he replied: "Why not?" He followed up that comment with "In case someone annoys me." (Just so you know the boys are NOT NOT NOT allowed to hit anything with a weapon other than another weapon. They are pretty good about following this rule.)

Some of the children's sword collection is in a crate in the mudroom. More swords are in the garage (heavy PVC pipe swords more suitable for outdoor play) and in the dress-up containers downstairs and there's an occasional sword or light saber in the kids' bedrooms. And, of course, Bentley and Jake have weapons in their karate bags.

Play Date


The children don't often have play dates. They play with each other and are quite busy with school, karate, dance, Cub Scouts, Activity Day Girls, music lessons, hobbies, reading, time with their dad, dates with Grandma Vicki, dates with Grandma Karen and activities with me. It is hard to squeeze in a play date, but we took advantage of Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday when public school was out and the dojo was closed to invite Evan and Reid from karate classes over to play.

Kara was hesitant to invite two more boys over to the house because four boys is already a lot of noise and chaos, but I encouraged her to give it a try. Everything went very well. Minimal supervision was needed. The boys and Viva played air hockey, ping pong, and foosball. They built forts and had sword fights. No one got hurt. They did a good job of cleaning up after their chaos. Total success!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fun at Our House

Boys with Swords…Again

Daddy playing Busy Town with L & E.

Evan the Monkey

Opa playing air hockey with L & E.

L & E at the Pool
(They told me they took off their clothes to dive into the pool.)

B & J playing air hockey.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Opa's Bday!

I am experimenting with animated gifs, my google photo account creates some fun ones for me.  :)  

And a still:

  Yesterday we celebrated Opa's 55th birthday, and lucky him he has 5 grandchildren who celebrated with him!  We had pizza and a German Chocolate cake.  (Which, sadly enough, is not actually a German thing - the creator's last name was German!)

Happy Birthday, Opa!  We love you!!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

B's Polished Rocks

Our first batch of rocks--Bentley's rocks--came out of the rock polisher on late Monday evening. They were in the polisher for ten days. We did a good job considering that we are novices at this. Some rocks came out more polished than others, but I think that is the nature of rocks. Some rocks take on a high gloss, some do not.

Programming *Fun*

This fall I've been trying to up our time spent on learning coding.  To that end, when I learned about Wonder League and the Dash & Dot robotic competition I figured we should give it a shot.  We ordered our Robots (Dash & Dot) and I put the kids to work unlocking all the code challenges in the app and working on the "missions".  Bentley was valiant.  Jake and Viva gave it a half hearted attempt.

Alas, we did not win.  We gave up in frustration.

Many of the missions relied on angles and straight lines and precise measurements used to navigate around cups on a 9x9 taped out grid.  Dash couldn't drive a straight line, he had a rather severe drift.  We contacted the manufacturer and they sent us a new Dash.  He was still rather drunk and swervy.  And we were rather irritated.  *This is my non-positive marketing non-plug, BTW!*

Back to Bentley.  He put in many hours and did a great job learning about programming.  It's just too bad the actual competition experience didn't work out!

Friday, January 15, 2016


We finally got some snow on Wednesday. It wasn't a great deal of snow, but a few inches which is enough to make our landscape light and bright again. Opa had to use the tractor to clear the driveway. Because we've had too much warm weather, the roads have a layer of ice under the snow, so the roads are still slick and dangerous to drive on. When Boy Scouts was canceled Wednesday, it created a window of opportunity for me to take the children sledding!

We started at the big hill at the high school and the older four had a great time. Evan was enjoying himself playing in the snow, but we could not entice him to go down on a sled. After a while I took the children over to the elementary school next to the high school where the hill is smaller. Evan took a few trips down a small snow pile and then went up their hill half way and sledded down five or more times.

After that Evan, Lincoln, and Viva opted to play on the playground equipment rather than sled. Evan laughed joyously when I pushed him on the swing. It was beautiful out. I wondered why we didn't come over to the playground in the winter more often…then I remembered that it's not a winter wonderland when it's frigid cold and icy and dark at the playground. Snow makes all the difference!

These photos do not do justice the beauty that night, but they are what I have.

The older children are catching snowflakes on their tongue or at least that's what they told me they were doing. At 8:30 I took Evan and Lincoln home and Viva opted to stay home, too. Bentley and Jake wanted to go back to the big hill, so we spent a while longer over there.  There were a few families that joined us on the big hill, but we had the playground to ourselves. We arrived just as the local ski club was leaving. Timing is everything! Well, that and a good snowfall, of course!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Silent Film Symphony

This year Jake and Matt went to the silent film feature together, it was a Charlie Chaplin film this year (City Lights).  Jake reports that it was very entertaining!

And because it fits in well with the photos, here is one more of Jake:

He requested a red dress shirt for Christmas, and he also received a trumpet tie tack.  He is looking quite dapper!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

When I Grow Up....

A year ago I quizzed the children on their vision of the future, so I figured it was a good time to give it another go.

Here are the results.

Evan said:
A frog!  Ribbit!

Lincoln said:
An elevator
a Daddy!

Genevieve said:
I want to be a mommy like you.

Jake said:
An inventor
Bentley and I might work together at a breadstick company.
play sports on an international team  (XXXXXX - erase, he says)
What I really want to do is work at the airport and get free rides on airplanes.

Bentley said:
A mineralogist
Have a shop that sells things I like to make, like steak and breadsticks.
Be in charge of a dojo.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Knitting with Great-Grandma

Viva learned to crochet with Grandma Vicki and now she wants to learn how to knit. I gave her one of those round looms you can knit on and she is doing that, but she really wanted to learn how to do it on knitting needles.

Jake, too, wanted to learn how to knit. He wanted to make a cardigan for his mom's birthday. Yes, you read that right--a cardigan (sweater) for his first knitting project. Needless to say Great-grandma and I have suggested he start with a smaller project.

Jake set up an appointment with Great-Grandma to start knitting lessons. He decided on 9PM after karate. (Most grade schoolers are in bed by 9PM, but our household is different.) Viva joined Jake for  lessons.

Bentley had no interest in learning to knit, but he did lurk outside the door…until I told him that he reminded me of the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood who stalked the grandmother. He thought that was pretty hilarious.

Fun times at our house!

P.S. Knitting lessons continue…late at night in great-grandma's room.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Favorite Books

Lincoln has been looking through "Disney Pixar Storybook Collection" a lot lately. One evening he asked me for a bookmark for it. I gave him a small Post-it. An hour later he came back and asked me if he could have one for Evan, who also wanted a bookmark. The next morning, he told me needed another one. I gave him an entire pad of Post-its. Simple pleasures!

Evan found "101 Wacky Facts about Mummies" downstairs last week. He has been carrying it around every day since. He has a favorite drawing in the book that he has shared with me, Kara, and Opa (maybe others, too). It shows a genie rising out of an campfire. I have no idea what sense he makes out of this picture. I've tried reading a few facts from the book to him, but the vocabulary is pretty specialized (as is the topic), so it has to be nonsense to him. Nonetheless this is his current favorite thing!

Snapshot: Friday Afternoon

I took this photo a little after 2PM this afternoon:

Kara and Bentley had just left the house to go to cello lessons. I was in charge of getting the other children to eat lunch. They had apples, pepperoni, goldfish (crackers), and eggnog. You can see from the photo some of the activities that we were engaged in at that time. Viva was knitting (more on that tomorrow), Jake was reading the comics, Great-grandma was doing the daily word puzzles in the paper.

Also on the table was our trio of amaryllis bulbs, a peg puzzle, a game of checkers, and a shark jigsaw puzzle. None of our amaryllis bloomed by Christmas, but they are all in full bloom right now. The peg puzzle features opposites and Evan retrieved it when I started quizzing him and Lincoln on opposites while I was setting the food on the table. Evan also brought the checkers game to the table. He was trying to get someone to play with him. Lincoln had brought the shark puzzle to the table a little earlier. It was a 100 piecer which is more than he usually works on, so I recruited everyone to do a few pieces of it.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Back on a School Schedule

This week the trio jumped back into their homeschool routine:

There are plenty of study tasks to be completed!

 Jake is multi-tasking here--doing math while piecing a puzzle.

 Viva is working on her typing.

Bentley is reading a science sheet.