Saturday, August 26, 2017

Berries on the Mountain

On Tuesday there was a little sun, so we took advantage of it to go berry picking at Arctic Valley. There were a lot of cars when we arrived, but it certainly wasn't crowded on the mountainside because mountains are big!

The kids had to play in the stream near the parking lot:

Then we started to scale the mountain looking for berries. The pickings on the lower mountainside were slim:

The higher we climbed, the more berries there were to be found.

Kara and Evan stayed low on the mountainside. I climbed higher with the other four. Eventually Jake and Lincoln stopped climbing to do full time picking. I climbed a little higher, but then gave Viva my phone so she could take photos when she and Bentley reached the top of the mountain. (She wants the photos for an art project.) Bentley said he rolled down part of the mountain coming back, but he laughed about it, so all was good.


Viva's art photos: view from the top! 

Viva's art photos: view from the top! 

selfie at the top

We found tons of crowberries (see photo; not too many people pick these, but we do), some blueberries (these are highly sought after at this location so it was hard to find them still on the bush!), a handful of lingonberries, and ten or so other harder to find berries....which I am sure will add flavor to our jelly. The seven of us picked 13 cups of berries--90+% were crowberries.

It was a great afternoon!

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Moment in Time Today

At 11:15AM today I took photos of what the children were doing--a small snapshot of the day.

Lincoln was doing Legos! 
He prefers to get a little playtime in before doing any schoolwork.
(Don't we all?!)

Viva was meeting with her mother about her schedule for the upcoming quarter.
She was feeling despondent about the time commitment.
I reminded her of her other option: public school.
She was horrified at the idea of giving up even more time!
(None of the grandchildren have ever wanted to attend public school.)

Jake was doing his online math course.
He was chanting something about how brilliant he is.

Evan was putting together a floor puzzle.

Bentley was reading The Mystery of History as part of his assigned work.
He and I had just finished discussing a very tricky math problem.
His online counting and probability course is quite challenging for both of us!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bentley's Suzuki Book 2 Recital!

In mid July Bentley had his second Suzuki recital, a celebration of finishing the second book in the Suzuki Cello series!  The Suzuki method is tough because it requires memorization of all the songs in order for you to "pass" them off with your teacher - I can't imagine remembering that many songs in my head!  Bentley did a lovely job, and he worked hard on a "stretch" encore piece, a version of Gigue by Bach.  Last year's recital featured Bentley and his teacher on cello as the accompanist, this year his teacher wanted him to try playing with a piano.  We were lucky to get hooked up with an awesome pianist, and the performance was awesome!  Great work, Bentley!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Twinkle Beans

For the past 9 months or so the little guys have been studiously working on their "twinkles jar" with Suzuki cello.  Their teacher gave them a mason jar full of beans (800?!) and their job was to move one bean from the jar to another jar every time they played one of their twinkle variations.  It took us a little while... !  When you are done you are supposed to celebrate and make bean soup with the beans.  I thought that bean soup might not seem like a huge reward to the kids (LOL!) so we decided to try an ice cream cake, as they've never had one before!

It was a hit.  Great work, little guys!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Off to the POOL!

Grandma decided we should "seize the moment" and take advantage of the little guys forward momentum from swim lessons, and keep working with them.  We've used the Dimond Center pool in the past (they have a warm therapy pool!) and the membership for the club is "reasonable" (comparatively, as you don't have to sign a year long contract!)

So off to the pool we went!  Lincoln & Evan are making fabulous progress, and the older kids always enjoy pool time.  Grandma and I have even made it over on our own a few times to get some exercise in.  Two thumbs up for summer time activities!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lincoln the Amazing!

Our newest six year old is a delightful little guy.  Here are some of the things I want to remember about him when he's all grown up.... !

He has a great sense of humor.  The wit is a bit dry sometimes, which makes him even funnier.

He is a thinker.  I am always surprised at his insightful comments!

He is normally agreeable, but also not afraid to stand up for himself (a good thing when you have siblings, not a good thing when you have siblings.... !)

He has the best smile.  Love that huge gap in the front!

He is gentle and sweet with the cats.  Always!

He is very creative and sticks with projects even when they are tough (master Lego builder... !)

Another Playground!

Viva has an art class on the west end of town and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to check out a really nice play location on that side of town. The location combines a nice school playground with a lake and wood side trail. We arrived and discovered a new piece of equipment had been added--a climbing wall with a slide. The kids really liked it.

We visited the main playground and they played there a little bit, but soon requested to go down to the lake front. We saw a few ducks and maybe a loon--it made a very odd noise, so I'm guessing it was loon.

Next I forced the kids to take a walk in the woods. I had some complaints about that activity, but I ignored them. Near the end of the trail we found a lot of currant bushes! Unfortunately for us, it's too late in the season and most of them were picked off or fallen off. We only collected a half cup. We also found raspberries (not good ones), watermelon berries (Jake, Viva, and Lincoln tried them), high bush cranberries (not ripe yet), and baneberries! I had told the kids to watch out for them because they are poisonous, but not to really worry because I don't recall ever finding any. Bentley found some--we brought the leaves (not the berries!) home to verify identification.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Thea the Bengal

A new kitten has arrived in our home!  She is very fun and playful and *even* Rameses is starting to love her.  :)  She arrived on July 21st.  We had long been awaiting her arrival (she came from a breeder in the lower 48!) and were counting down the days.  :)  Here she is on day one, at just a bit over 12 weeks old:

We managed to get a few pictures, but for the first few days she was mostly interested in hiding under the middle of my big king bed.  Five kids is quite a few and they all wanted to check out the new kitten!  She has become MUCH more comfortable with us, although she is still a bit skittish at times.  Normally she alternates between sleeping and acting like a crazy kitten.  We find her very entertaining....

She chases her tail.  She chases Rameses.  She chews on toys (and books, unfortunately....).... she jumps and somersaults and talks and talks and talks, and purrs and purrs and purrs.  She likes to be where we are.  And... she's both playful, smart, AND gorgeous!  We love our kitten!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Our Newest Lego Meister

Lincoln is without dispute the most Lego obsessed child in the family currently and maybe of all time. When Jake was younger he was pretty obsessed with Legos, but Lincoln is, I think, even more so than younger Jake.

For his birthday last month Lincoln was lobbying for Legos from everyone. His mom nixed that plan, but he still got a few Lego sets one of which was on his Christmas wish list, so that made him very happy. He just finished building one of his birthday gift sets and he insisted on doing it all himself. He did a great job; I only helped fix a couple parts put on the wrong side. (Also, I have a bag of unused pieces which I'm pretty sure belong in the build, but you can't tell from looking at the set that anything's missing so no biggie.) This set had 1093 pieces in it and he built most of it in the last two days!

Opa and I gave him some Mixel sets because the month before his birthday Mixels were Evan and his favorite Legos. There are two bins of them in the house and they co-opted both bins. They played with them and looked online for directions to rebuild the smaller sets into larger Mixels. Evan built a Mixel set on his own!

For months Lincoln had been creating his own small Lego designs. He would build them upstairs in the Lego room and then bring them downstairs and put them on the fireplace ledge. I finally told him they needed to go back upstairs--there are multitudinous Legos in the upstairs family room and a lot of Legos in  L & E's bedroom. We don't need yet another room overtaken by Legos! Stop the spread! Here are a few of his creations:

He inspired Evan to start building his own creations, too:

Two weeks ago Lincoln designed a small dragon. He made a green one for the green ninja, then a red one for the red ninja, a blue one for the blue ninja, and so forth. At last count I think he had built nine different dragons. We are starting to run out of parts to build more!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Lego Robotics Camp

During the month of July Bentley, Jake and Viva went to a week long Lego Robotics camp on UAA campus. Bentley was in a different session than the twins, so that meant twice the driving, but that's the way it goes sometimes. (You have to lottery into the classes and we consider our family very fortunate to have gotten three kids into this coveted camp.) 

Bentley went last year, so he knew what he was getting into. He enjoyed it again this year. Jake enjoyed his first Lego Robotics camp experience. He and Viva were on the same team by choice. Viva was the surprise for me. I was surprised she wanted to attend and I was surprised how much she liked the camp--after all they were in camp for five days from eight to three working with Legos. 

Last year after the robotics camp Opa and I purchased the older kids a Lego robotic kit of their own. Bentley built a very fine robot, but he wasn't too thrilled when Jake wanted to rebuild it. Opa and I purchased two more robotic kits so they could each build their own robots...and start a fight club. Sumo wrestling is a time honored tradition with Lego robots. 

Jake built himself a robot and Viva started a robot and then the kids became involved in other activities and the Lego robotics kits took up residence in my bedroom. I'm happy to report that after summer camp last month, Bentley and Jake took their kits out and have started working on new robots. I think Viva added two pieces to last year's unfinished robot. Jake won't agree to a sumo competition against Bentley, so our fight club has yet to form.

Before the boys tore apart their robots from last year, they asked us to take photos of them, so here are last year's robots (Bentley's, then Jake's): 

Some photos from robotics camp this year!