Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Snow Day

More than a half foot of snow fell last night. We never found great-grandma's newspaper. Schools were closed for the day. I took the kids over to Service High to sled. Another karate family was there and so after sledding down the hill a few times, the boys engaged in a snowball fight. Then Bentley, Jake, and Lincoln made a snowman while Viva and Evan made a shelter with the sleds.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dance Costume Preview

Here is quick look at Viva's dance costumes for the dance recital next month. Viva is taking six dance classes (each class only meets one hour per week). Each class works on a different dance routine for the recital so Viva will be in six routines dressed in six different costumes. Some dance costumes are quite cute, some are rather odd, and a few are just boring. This particular selection of costumes is diverse and fun. I like every one of them!

Does Viva like them? Yes and no. She acknowledges the costumes look cute, but she is one of those people who is really sensitive to seams in their clothing and prickly fabrics and unfortunately dance costumes have both. She is agreeable to wearing her dance costumes during rehearsal, during the recital, and if bribed during a photo shoot, but she will never otherwise wear them. They don't join her dress up clothes. They have a very short useful life.

Last semester Viva had six new costumes, but we never took photos of her in them. I'm quite sad about that. The winter recital was just before Christmas and our household was in the middle of a two month long spell of coughs, colds, and flues. The photos didn't get taken. (I'm still advocating to have them taken. Better late than never.)

PS The costumes are hanging on the stall bars (from when Viva was in gymnastics) and I think Kara has left the costumes there rather than put them in the closet to prevent Evan from climbing the bars. Lincoln and Evan love to climb up to the ceiling, but recently Evan fell from the top and it was scary--more so for the adults than the child.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Jake's Pots of Herbs

It's that time of year when the children come home with an overwatered cup of dirt in which they've planted far too many seeds. This time it was Jake's cub scout activity. He arrived home with five pots of planted herb seeds. He immediately handed them over to Viva to take care of. Kara told her to take them upstairs to their bedroom, but I rescued them from that dark fate. How can a seed germinate if it's in a usually dark room far from the window?! I had her place them in the kitchen's bay window box which is a lovely, warm, sun drenched place to reside. Viva put plastic bags over the tops of the pots.

Within days one pot sprouted little plants. Over the next two weeks, three more pots had plants came up, but the fifth pot remained devoid of greenery. It's been three weeks now, so I took the problem to the source. I asked Jake and Viva what could be wrong. Jake immediately said that Viva must have under-watered them or not given them enough sunlight. I assured him neither of those things happened. I then suggested they look closely at one particular pot. Viva noticed that it had two different types of plants sprouting up.

Jake concurred that that made sense because when he was planting the seeds, he lost track on the final round which pot was the empty one. So that mystery is solved. Now for the tough love part…we need to thin out the crowded groups of seeds. I do not like killing baby plants. I know it will produce better, stronger surviving plants, but it's just so brutal. (Unlike harvesting which often kills plants, too?)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Viva's Quilt

Viva started her quilt last May or even before that. I gave her some 5" batik squares and she arranged them on the design board. Then she started sewing them together. Then Bentley and Jake saw her working on a quilt, and asked to make their own quilts. For a while she sewed with them. Then she put her quilt away. For months. Finally this week she took it out and finished it! (I now have to quilt it and bind it for her.) Even though I was frustrated that she took so long to get back to this project, a lot of the quilters I know have dozens of half finished projects that have been in boxes for years. Maybe it's part of the quilting process? (Jake and Bentley finished their quilts quickly because they were eager to use their quilts.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lincoln's Dragons

Lincoln has a fascination with Lego Ninjago dragons. Two months ago he talked Bentley into letting him build Bentley's four headed dragon. Next he requested that his dad buy him his own Ninjago dragon at the Lego store when Matt was on a business trip. And then he finally got his wish that I locate Opa's Lego Ninjago dragon set. After finding it, I then had to help build it. The first time you build a Lego set the pieces come in numbered bags to make it easier to find the pieces needed at each step of the build. But after the boys build and then take apart and store a Lego set, the pieces usually all go in one big bag, so the second build is never as easy as the first build. But we persevered and located all the pieces to build that dragon!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Everyday Life: Even More February

Read, Read, Read

Lego Light Sabers!!!
Oh so awesome!

Dangerous? Yes...

Not dangerous!!

Can be very dangerous…and cold, but generally quite fun.

More danger…a kid's life is fraught with dangerous activities!

Especially when you seek danger out…bos, nunchucks, tonfas, and sais!

This tower of blocks looks dangerous!

Finally, a safe activity!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Everyday Life: More February

Valentine Wreath 
(doll by Viva)

Girl with cat

A Muffin with Math

Hex Bugs

Great-grandma with Great-grandson (who likes to borrow her phone)

Balancing Boy

Video Game Time

Deconstructing Lego Time
(only done under duress)

Block Building Time

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Everyday Life: February

A chocolate orange from Christmas!

Making a Papa Murphy's personal pizza (for three!).

Goofy boys wearing Star Wars shirts.

Helping decorate for Valentine's Day


Jake taking a math test.

Family Chores

Cello practice! (Yes, without a cello!)

Brotherly love can be overwhelming.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

1000 Dogs

The ceremonial start of the Iditarod was today. 72 teams (each with 12-16 dogs) are attempting the almost 1000 mile journey to Nome. We like to take the kids to see the teams, but this Saturday was a little crazy. Bentley was at karate practice and Jake was at a music recital. The family (minus Bentley) went to Jake's recital. Matt and Jake left the recital early to get Jake to karate. (They are practicing for a demo this afternoon.)

Kara, Viva, Lincoln, Evan, and I stayed for the entire recital and then enjoyed some cake before heading home. I convinced Kara that we should stop on the way home to see if there were still a few teams on the trail. And there were!! Lincoln and Evan high fived a few of the mushers. Viva chose not to.

Thursday, March 02, 2017


Bentley, Jake, and Viva have played Minecraft for a few years (two? three?). Minecraft is computer game where you dig (mine) for resources and then build (craft) 3D constructs from the resources. (It is often compared to Legos, but you work with virtual bricks--called blocks.) You work in a computer generated world of varying terrains and habitats where the sun rises and sets. There are five different modes or types of play. In creative mode life is easy. You have unlimited life and resources. You don't have to mine for basic resources to craft what you want--you can just ask for already crafted items. You aren't hunted by monsters. Viva loves this mode. It's all about building and exploring.

The other mode most often used in our home is survival mode, the original game mode of Minecraft. Survival mode is brutal. You must mine resources before you can create tools to build homes to keep you safe from marauding zombies, spiders and other monsters. It's not easy for a beginner to survive their first night in this mode. This is Jake's favorite mode.

Basic Minecraft can be played on iPads and this is what the children were doing, but they wanted to upgrade. They wanted to be able to download mods created by other Minecraft users. Using mods expands the Minecraft world immensely. Bentley asked for a mod for his birthday. Kara knew it was going to be a lot of work to create a system where all three kids could play--first off you need three computers, not iPads. She didn't want the kids going online to play because it's an uncontrolled environment. You can opt online to work in your own little world, but if you share a world with others they might destroy your constructs. It's called griefing. We wanted no part of that, so Kara set up our own server.

This was not an easy task. It took her days of research to make it work. She had to recruit her father and work with him. This may have been a mistake...he is now the biggest Minecraft addict in the house. Yup, it's true. This past month playing Minecraft with his grandchildren has left him with no time for playing music. He says he's doing it for them, but I think that is an oversimplification...that may not be true. He really enjoys Minecraft. (It is the second most popular standalone video game of all time. It ranks eighth for currently popular online video games and it is the only kid friendly game in the top ten.)

So that's my Minecraft trivia. Now back to the kids: they started playing the week before Jake and Evan went to Hawaii with their dad. While Jake was gone I lobbied Kara and Mark to allow Lincoln access. He took to it like a duck to water. Since Jake returned there have been a few tears when the older kids get to play and Lincoln doesn't. And, of course, we had to let Evan learn the game, too. This created a problem because we don't have enough computers for Opa, Bentley, Jake, Viva, Lincoln, and Evan to play at the same time. Opa has to share his computer with Evan, but not for long because Opa has volunteered to buy himself a new computer to fix the problem. Isn't that magnanimous of him? (I seem to recall hearing something about how his computer isn't a gaming computer and doesn't even work as well as his grandchildren's computers. SERIOUSLY? The 50+ year old needs a better computer than his Minecraft teammates? That doesn't seem sporting of him and I told him so, but I don't think he's going to listen to my argument.)

Everyone looks so happy! 
(I guess no monsters are chasing them, when that happens I often hear shrieking.)

Viva tutoring Lincoln.

Opa tutoring Evan.


Jake read my blog post and told me that his favorite mode is creative--because you can blow stuff up. (I think he was just being contrary with that comment.)

I asked Bentley for a Minecraft quote and he said "I'm the most creative." I asked him if Viva would agree with that statement--I know she wouldn't. He said that he is the most creative because he has hidden bases his siblings don't know about. I'm not allowed to list them because then they'd know where to look.