Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Pageant

Christmas Eve is always a relatively crazy day for our family, as most pastor's families can attest. The day usually starts out fairly calm and normal, but by mid-afternoon we're getting ready to head out to the first of three services here in Girdwood.

The first service is the Pageant, which is a 'kid' service. Kids dress up as people in the nativity story and assemble on a little stage in a sort of 'tableau', creating a visual depiction as scripture passages are read and carols are sung. Moriah and Susannah signed up to be readers and we thought Abigail and Bethany might be able to handle being animals for the shepherds to shepherd.

At the initial meeting to pass out costumes, they decided that they'd be donkeys. Abigail was a gray donkey and Bethany was a spotted donkey. I was hopeful at this point that they might go through with it.

The little girls missed the first real rehearsal because they were at Little Bears and it was nap time. I wasn't too worried because I didn't think a rehearsal would make much sense to them anyway.

The only time they were able to practice was 1.5 hours before the actual pageant (and this after a nap that wasn't quite the usual length). Bethany dressed up, walked in and sat on the stage like a champ. Abigail was an entirely different, um, animal. She didn't want her costume on at first, until Moriah got it on her. She did walk in with the shepherds but didn't want to sit at first. Then when she did sit, she made weird blowing sounds with her fingers in her mouth. Yes, at that point I was rethinking her role in the pageant.

Snacks and a video awaited the pageant participants to fill the time until the pageant started, which made me hopeful that Abigail would have time to settle and maybe find a change of heart. *snort* Nope. When it was time to line up, she refused to get her costume on, so I told her she could stay with Mommy. Bethany lined right up with all the other kids, and was fine when I left the room to go find a seat.

My attempts to sit with Abigail were initially successful. Until she saw her big sisters sitting along the window, waiting for their turns to read. Up to Moriah she ran. Followed by me, taking her back to our seat. When Bethany came in with the shepherds, she sat on her spot and was everything Abigail was not (and yes, in my head I was saying "why can't you be more like your sister?" to Abigail). As Abigail tried to leave my lap again, I reminded her the deal was either with Mommy or up on stage.

Of course, she wanted her costume on and she went up on the stage for a moment. Or half a moment. Only after Moriah agreed to sit on the steps on the side of the stage. That didn't last long and even caused Bethany to give up her 'perfect child' status momentarily when she ran off stage toward Susannah. Bethany got back in place, Abigail departed for good.

That's when I tried to get Abigail to sit back with me. ha. Further attempts to get Abigail to stay seated were met with disdain and then outright defiance. And some small screams. And some louder screams. And with Mommy grabbing her up and walking out (and muttering under her breath and giving strained smiles to those folks I knew who were giving me sympathetic smiles). And with some more screams in the hallway.

It was lovely. Knowing my kid was the disruptive one. The Pastor's Kid making such a ruckus. And know what else? Through all the herculean efforts to control my willful child, I was wearing a new sweater. A nice warm sweater in fact. Not the wisest wardrobe choice for the evening. Especially because I knew in my heart of hearts that this probably wouldn't go smoothly. Should have trusted my instincts and waited until next year.

Here are a couple of photos of our donkeys.

This is during rehearsal, when it looked like Abigail would participate.


Sorry it's so fuzzy, but you can still tell how cute
Bethany was, sitting on the edge of the stage.

I had several people tell me that next year it'll be better. Hmph. Feeling a little Grinchy about that.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Girdwood kind of day

And what that means is rain. Lots of rain. On top of the snow. In huge slushy piles. With icy roads and ankle-deep puddles.

I love living in Girdwood. Love winter. Love the snow.

Don't love the rain that we get during winter from time to time.

Rain, rain, go away. Come again sometime next spring. Or fall.

Sigh.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Little Artist

Abigail likes to draw. And color. And 'pay paydoh'. And paint. She's our only kid who will color with anything she finds on anything she finds. We have to watch Abigail carefully whenever her older sisters get out craft supplies.

She draws on her little Magna Doodle a lot. Animals, mostly. Animals that are actually recognizable. (once she tells you what they are *grin*)

Her first little picture was a couple of months ago, of belugas. Ovals with eyes.
Recently, she's drawn a dinosaur, complete with a ridged back and legs and a head.

Today she drew a deer. You could tell where she had drawn a head, legs and possibly antlers.
Then she drew a mommy duck with a baby duck. It was a duck shape and had 'tail feathers' and the little baby was nestled against its side.

A little artist in the making?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Concert tonight, random toddlerisms

Well, it's really called the Holiday Concert. But in my head I still tend to call it the Christmas Concert.

We were treated to some very good instrumental music at tonight's concert. The beginning band played first and did a great job with their three pieces. Moriah had a 'solo' for The Little Drummer Boy-like song that she did very well with. Then the beginning orchestra played very well. Very. There are only four students (1 violin, 2 violas, 1 cello) and they were outstanding. Played harmony in one song and everything. The intermediate band played pretty well, too. It's a mix of band and orchestra and has a wider range of instruments.

The individual songs by class were 'recycled' songs: familiar Christmas songs with school-related lyrics. There were a couple of CD-skipping errors; one was with the Kindy class and resulted in a do-over and then a huge round of applause for their sheer cuteness. Typical school concert stuff.

We brought the little girls along and they were great audience members. They watched, spellbound, for most of it. Abigail, especially, kept a watch out for her sisters. Susannah was in the 'extra' choir number and Abigail was searching in vain for Moriah, looking a little perplexed when told 'Iyah' wasn't up there.

Now for a couple of recently heard expressions and 'behaviors' at the Doepken house....

Bethany has taken a liking to 'four minutes' as a time frame for almost everything. If Abigail wants to share a toy, Bethany needs it "for 4 more minutes". Or if she is supposed to go upstairs for bed, it's "in 4 minutes". Kinda cute, and we have no idea where it came from.

A couple of weeks ago, Abigail bumped her elbow on the glider rocker. She tried to kiss it and said "Sorry elbow".

Bethany is waiting a little impatiently for her 'stonking' to come in the mail. Abigail has gotten her 'sock' already. (needlepoint stockings from Lands' End)

Both little girls will happily join in (or begin on their own) if you sing "Livin' on a Prayer", complete with hand motions and appropriate emotional inflection. In fact, tonight Bethany broke into song, sounding a little like a smoker with a fairly deep, gruff delivery. They will also sing a little "Party Like a Rockstar" if you ask.

Abigail seems to be more inclined to sing in general and can be heard singing various songs throughout the day.

Some popular songs asked for at bedtime: On Top of Spaghetti, C Is for Cookie, Oleanna, Oh Susannah, Jesus Loves Me.

Hmmm...I feel like I need a catchy way to end this post.

I got nothing.

Peace.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rocking around the Christmas Tree

We have a fake tree. Yes, I admitted it. We bought it back in Kenai after our first two Christmases in Alaska.

Two years of attempting to keep a live tree watered enough. (ha!)

Two years of failing and watching it shed needles. (sigh)

LOTS of needles. (ow)

Everywhere. (darn ineffective vacuum)

So, artificial tree it was. A pretty decent one that has held up pretty well these last 10 years or so. Color coded and easy to assemble.

Here is Jim doling out the branches, the kids 'fluffing' them and putting them in place.

More kids assembling. Note Samuel's choice of glamorous headwear.



Samuel in his beret, Moriah showing the infamous Eeyore snow globe ornament from 2000 and 2007 (just ask her about it sometime).

Susannah smilingly setting special somethings.

Abigail and Bethany helping put some ornaments on, too.

Here is where Abigail began putting ornaments and then Bethany followed suit.

The Christmas Doorknob?

Jim exhibited a very strange behavior while putting ornaments on.
I had no idea he felt that way toward butterflies.



Once the ornaments were on, attention turned toward putting the angel on top. Our angel has been around for about 20 years or so. Maybe a little less. Jim made her at a church Advent 'crafty' night back when he was at Wabash College. I made an identical one that I think we have somewhere. She's been our angel for our entire married life, as far as I remember (almost 18 years!) She is starting to show her age, so who knows how much longer we'll have her atop our tree.

Each year the older kids have the requisite "Who does the angel this year?" conversation. Over the years, we established a complex equation for satisfying the kids' desires to light the yule log, put a piece nightly into the Advent calendar and put the angel on the tree. They would cycle through each thing, keeping things as even as possible. This year, Samuel was quite sure it was his year. Quite sure.

He even had an 'argument' all ready: he'd do this year, then the four sisters could go in order. He'd be leaving home in a few years and he really wanted to do the angel this year. ?? Jim and I countered by suggesting letting the little girls do it this year together and that he could do it next year. So we tried that. *snort*

Here we are, little girls on my and Jim's shoulders, trying to get Abigail to place the angel on the top bough. Abigail, bless her heart, had no idea what to do (we should have known that!).






Then I tried handing the angel to Bethany and lifting her high enough to get it on the top. *double snort* Notice her death grip on my forehead and me holding the angel. At least Bethany looks happy.





Then it was Bubby to the rescue!
To his credit, he didn't say "told you so."



And, at last, our tree was assembled, decorated and ready to enjoy.

Lovely sight. *contented sigh*

Friday, December 11, 2009

Successful auditions

Two more instruments invaded our house this year, the year that the girls could choose an instrument for 6th grade band (or orchestra). Susannah chose flute and Moriah chose percussion. FYI, if you're wondering, beginning percussion is a small set of 'bells' (looks like a xylophone) and a drum pad (not a 'real' drum...yet). They have both done well with their respective instruments and are part of a small band at school.

An opportunity to audition for an all-district 6th grade honor band was presented a couple of weeks ago and Moriah decided she'd like to audition. Susannah was less than enthusiastic, but I encouraged her to think about it since we'd be going in for Moriah anyway. Susannah eventually decided to audition as well and we three ladies went into Anchorage yesterday right after school to audition.

When we arrived, we saw that there were many kids waiting in the hallway to audition. Susannah noticed right away that there were a lot of flutes. The girls headed into the practice room, where we were met with a relative cacophony of instruments practicing. Quite a difference to the music room in Girdwood. The girls warmed up, running through their scales and songs, and then we joined the throngs in the hallway, trying to figure out where to go.

A kind parent pointed out that the audition rooms were labeled, so we found the flute line (with about 10 kids in it) and we found the percussion line (very short). Moriah got into her audition room first and the adjudicator took his time, showing her something on the snare drum, talking, listening, etc. Susannah had a longer wait (but she was happily chatting with the other kids in line) and I had assumed she'd still be waiting when Moriah got done. Not so. I turned around and she wasn't there anymore. They had opened up another audition room to make things go faster.

Moriah got out of her audition just before Susannah was done. Moriah was bubbling over with excitement and was really happy with how her audition went. I watched Susannah come out of the little practice room and could tell her audition wasn't as positive. She looked like she was about to cry. I listened to both girls describe their auditions and it became clear that they had completely different experiences. I was sorry it hadn't gone smoothly for Susannah but I was so proud of both girls for making the effort to audition in the first place.

I ended up writing a note to the music department this morning to comment on the very different experiences of the girls. Not sure what I thought it would accomplish, but my momma heart wanted to acknowledge and try to 'fix' the negative audition Susannah went through.

By the time I got home tonight, there was a nice reply from the music department. I appreciated that they heard my concerns and gave me a little more information to help me understand the audition process.

Along with that email came another...the girls had been chosen to be in the honor band! When I told them, Susannah's mouth dropped open and she just stared at me. Moriah (if I remember correctly) did a fist pump. We'll have to do some schedule shifting once practices start in January, but that will all work out eventually.

I'm so proud of those girlios!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another lapse

Yes, it's been a little bit again between posts. Sorry! I've been sick and busy and sick of being busy.

But, until I have some time to upload some photos of us decorating our Christmas tree, here is a little photo love for those of you wondering what our 'little' family is looking like these days. We had those family photos taken and I've gotten the pictures back. Our wonderful photog friend emailed me a digital version of one our better poses so I could put it on the blog. That was really sweet!

Here it is (please forgive Samuel's wild hair...it's slightly alarming, but I figure we'll all have a good chuckle one day over what it looked like at this point in his life!):

(clockwise, from center: me, Samuel, Moriah, Bethany, Abigail, Susannah, Jim)

Aren't we GORGEOUS???

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sea Life Center Photos

I'm going out on a limb and posting photos without 'watermarking' them. It's a time-intensive process and it'd take forever to get the photos into Photobucket, saved with my "Property of the Doepkens" tagline, then downloaded again just in time to upload again into Blogger. If anyone knows of a better way to get this done, I'm all ears/eyes. One caveat: my laptop is school-issued and managed and I likely cannot download any nifty software to make this all easier.
(And please excuse the relatively messy look of the photos and text together. I'm still not very good at manipulating things onto the page in a pretty way.)

Without further ado, here are some photos from our Sea Life Center outing (click on them to see them a little larger).

As soon as you enter the center, there is this cute little boat that allows you to play captain with some buttons and a wheel. Abigail is holding a plastic crab that freaked her out a little at first.










Next came some 'buttons' that let you
hear
all kinds of animal sounds. Bethany
was absolutely tickled by each noise heard, clapping her hands to her mouth and giggling. As you can see, she was barely tall enough to reach about half of them and needed a smidge of help for the other half.



There is a definite conservation/'green' aspect to the Center, and the first little room we came to has all sorts of information on declining numbers of fish and increasing numbers of jellyfish, among other things. The little girls listened intently to a radio interview via phone and then Abigail enjoyed petting the fur of a harbor seal and a sea otter.



The big girls finally convinced the little girls that it was okay to touch the glass of the fish exhibits and they got a kick out of looking at all the creatures swimming and floating and undulating and crawling around.

We ventured into the 'Touch and Feel' part, and I don't think any of us expected the two smallest Doepkens to touch any of the creatures. But Bethany surprised us all, including herself, by boldly sticking her finger into the water.

Just look at her excitement and glee!

Abigail hovered around, watching Bethany get more brave and eventually touch something. Not to be outdone, she walked right up and stuck her finger in the water as well.

Oh yeah? I can touch an anemone too!

The anemones looked prickly but were kinda soft (and they 'hugged' your finger too!). The sea star that both babes touched felt like a rock and Bethany even touched another type of anemone that was sticky--the very end of each long 'arm' stuck to your finger. (no, Mommy didn't touch anything)



We watched 'Woody', a huge Stellar sea lion for a little bit. He would swim by, his eyes sort of bulging and following us. He'd come way up out of the water, then swim around, then pass by or little group as if to say "what are you doing?"

The birds were next and Abigail wasn't sure she liked them too well. Lots of noise and motion and shaking of feathers to rid them of water. I especially liked the male King Eider, although the photo doesn't do it justice. I'll post it anyway.

We headed downstairs, visited the Giant octopus that was moving all over the place in the tank, watched Woody and the harbor seals swimming in their respective tanks, had the kids get on the big scale and see how close they could come to Woody's weight (barely a fourth, I believe) and found the jellies tank. By this time all five kids were rather hungry so we raided the vending machines and my snack stash before hitting the gift shop.

Going into a gift shop with toddlers/almost pre-schoolers is an adventure, as any parent can probably tell you. I was okay with the kids getting a small memento of our Thanksgiving 'vacation'.

The big girls each found a cool necklace within their price range.
Check.
Samuel wasn't that interested, as was expected.
Check.
Jim had fun playing with the stuff he saw (and getting Moriah to, too).
Check.


The little girls wandered around. They looked at the stuffed animals. They looked at the hard plastic animals (almost had them convinced to get a "Nemo" clown fish). They found 'baby cups' and wanted those. ?? Abigail narrowed it down somewhat to a stuffed animal. But! kept choosing big ones (I think she was teasing me because she'd hold up a sort of large one and say "a little one?"). Bethany got bored and left the store (in the company of Samuel). Part of me totally rejoiced in that, but then I redoubled my efforts to find her something she'd like. I know, I know. Not a shining Mommy moment, encouraging my child to spend money when she wasn't really interested. But I was doing some pre-self-preservation, thinking of that potential meltdown that could come when she realized Abigail had something and she didn't.

In the end, Abigail settled on a little black bear (BB for short) and Bethany chose a stuffed jelly fish (whose name is...Jelly). They seemed very happy with their purchases and have been playing with them. I find some solace in that.

We got home, ate a quick lunch and the little girls headed to their naps. It was a lovely late morning/early afternoon spent together (although you should ask Jim about taking advice from his wife about appropriate footwear).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankfulness

Our family is down in Seward, a smallish town about 1.5 hours from Girdwood. We had a fairly lazy (and lovely) Thanksgiving morning, an uneventful trip down, had dinner on the table by 6, enjoyed our meal, watched a movie (Up) and finished up with pie. Our only little hiccup was Bethany's reluctance to go to bed (on their 'picnic' beds*), which is sort of par for the course for her right now anyway. Jim and I had to wait just a little while for her to settle before we could watch a couple more episodes of Glee.

Now, we're almost ready to head out to the Sea Life Center. The big girls have gotten the little girls excited about the animals we'll see. They've been talking about it for days. If you ask Bethany what animals she'll see, she'll tell you "seals, crabs, fishies, sarfish."

I'll see about posting pictures later. Bye!

*The little girls have enjoyed a couple of 'picnic' lunches on the floor lately, so I told them that their pallets on the floor were 'picnic' beds. Yes a little strange, but it helped distract them from wanting to sleep on the very tall queen bed in the room they're in.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November is flying by

How in the world is it already almost time for Thanksgiving? Days seem to run into each other, starting early with Samuel (when it's my turn), going going going all day at work, after-school things, evening meetings, bedtime, homework, etc.

Later this week we'll be heading down to Seward for a couple of days of 'vacay'. We wound up being able to stay at the UM pastor's house because he'll be out of town: score one for free lodging! I'm not sure how elaborate our Thanksgiving meal will be, especially cooking in someone else's home. I know we'll have turkey (turkey breast from Costco, leftover from dinner a few nights ago, to be honest), pineapple pudding, stuffing, cranberry stuff, mashed potatoes (fake to make it really easy...ask Jim why we have to have mashed potatoes!) and gravy, yams, rolls and some veggies of some kind. Oh, and eggnog. And pumpkin pie from Costco (yummy!). Not too shabby. No twice-baked potatoes, though. Too much work for a vacation meal. Actually, now that I've typed it all out, we're not giving up too much. But we're definitely making it as easy as we can. (although I wonder if we'll have enough room in the car for clothing, little girl extras and food!)

The big girls are already talking up our plan to go to the Sea Life Center while there. They have gotten the little girls excited and the little girls have been talking about the fish and seals and starfish and other animals they'll see while there. Hard to explain to them that we won't be leaving for a few more days. I don't think I've ever been to Seward in early winter...wonder what the shops will be like and what'll be open.

We got our family photo proofs back and they turned out really well. Except for Samuel's hair. It was a bit, um, wild. We couldn't get a hair appointment before the photos were taken, so I tried my best to tame his curly hair into some semblance of normalcy. Didn't work, but at least his smiles are genuine and sweet. Right? I don't know if I'm allowed to post one of the proofs or not; I'll check with the photographer soon.

I should really head to bed. I'm on the early shift with Samuel tomorrow. Stayed up watching Eureka with Jim. Cute show (on Syfy) about a town full of geniuses. We Doepkens would fit right in! *snort*

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Taking photos, take two

Way back in September I signed up our family for a portrait session. I was hopeful that the little girls would be willing to put up with flashing lights for the twenty-minute sitting. Our little adventure with photos on school picture day gave me a great heads-up to how to make the sitting successful. Yes: chocolate!

After the flurry of figuring out what we'd all wear and the changing of clothes and the drying of hair and the finding of shoes, we actually made it out of the house and to the school with time to spare (a true rarity with us!).

I told the little girls that if they sat and smiled they could have some m 'n ms, something that perked them right up. They willingly sat and posed and smiled (and it helped immensely that Daryl the photographer had a great Donald Duck voice that made them absolutely giggle).

As soon as the first family pose snapshots were taken, Bethany asked for the chocolate. (uh oh, I thought.) I told her that she had to smile a little bit more then she'd get it. On to the second pose, lots of smiles, and again, the request for chocolate. (would she pose once more with just her siblings?) Yes! A quick few shots of just the kids and she and her sister were in possession of small packets of chocolately goodness.

Jim and I had a few taken of the two of us, too. We haven't had couple photos taken in a while and they looked fairly good in quick review.

The proofs will be ready in about a week...I wonder how difficult it will be to choose shots. It won't be cheap, but I think the photos came out well and I'd really like to have at least one of each pose. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 9, 2009

A moment of mild panic

Last night the older girls were watching the movie Hoot. (The little girls were in the room and were watching as well, basically by default.) It's a movie about kids working to protest development in an area in Florida that has a special kind of owl living in the ground. One of the kids does some vandalism-type stuff that includes putting an alligator in a porta-potty, which then jumps up and tries to snap at a policeman.

I noticed that Abigail was wearing a rather alarmed look and Bethany said something like "the dinosaur try to bite him", so they certainly noticed what was going on with the movie. Abigail then said something about alligators in our toilet and I had a brief moment of "oh shoot, please not again."

What does that mean, you think? Not again? Huh?

Wellll, several years ago, I had a little girl develop a fear of toilets. Well, public toilets. And it was an understandable fear, given the circumstances. Moriah was in the bathroom at Red Robin, minding her own (bathroom) business, when one of the adjacent toilets began to overflow. It freaked her out. Freaked. Her. Out. She had locked the door and I couldn't get in right away to get her off the wet floor. I did finally get in and 'rescue' her, but the damage was done. She didn't use a public toilet for quite a while after that.

That's what flashed through my mind last night as Abigail looked on, wide-eyed, at the alligator in the toilet on tv. "Please, not again"...I immediately went into the bathroom, calling for the little girls to follow me, so that they could see that there was only water in our toilet. No 'dinosaurs', no snapping 'agilators'. Bethany followed me in but Abigail hung back. That gave me another small burst of panic, making me wonder if she'd be unwilling to come into the room. I had momentary visions of using the little trainer potties, in any room but the room with the big toilets.

Thankfully, after a short bit of coaxing, Abigail came in and peered into the toilet. No snapping anything appeared. And that was all it took. Fear all gone.

Phew!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pure imagination...

After school today the big girls and I went down to The o> Shop to see Samuel, who had called me but wasn't returning my return calls. While there, we three ladies indulged in cinnabon pretzels, which are quite lovely and happened to fit the after-school-snack budget ($10 cash was all I had on me).

We then went to pick up babes from Little Bears. That took a bit because they were playing outside on the playground (still NO snow!) and they never want to leave at that point. The big girls devised some playful motivation to get them to the car: Moriah protected the babes from the Susannah monster, running this way and that until they reached the safety of the car.

As we were driving home, I told the big girls that I'd like to squeeze in a walk (the one that didn't happen earlier because I stayed at work too long) and could they please occupy the babes for that stretch of time.

This request resulted in the next bit of imaginative play. Moriah suggested that they play 'Knight, Dragon and Damsel' and Bethany enthusiastically said she'd be a knight! Abigail didn't voice a preference that I can recall.

All four girls went straight upstairs once we arrived home and were heard shuffling and moving around the big girls' room. I was hurriedly putting on some walking clothes and came out to see Moriah and Bethany dressed identically in shiny 'armor' fabric and a cape. By the time I came downstairs, Bethany was also wielding a blue spatula. Princess Abigail made her grand appearance shortly thereafter and the tableau was set.

I grabbed the dog and went on my walk. Time? 4:50 or so. Sadly, I had to cut my walk short because I am not yet in DLS mode...by 5:10 or so I was fully aware that I'd soon be hard to see and I hadn't brought a head lamp. oops.

What happened while I was gone you ask? No idea. Well, I did notice that Abigail and Bethany changed roles at some point. Otherwise? Good question. I do know that upon my return I could tell that those four girls had a blast and played and played and played while I was gone.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Right now

there is an epic battle between two kitty cats and an orange monster. One of the kitty cats often turns into a 'runaway monter' (monster) herself, but then returns to her kitty shape.

The kitties are currently under their protective shield (blanket) and are telling the orange monster to 'freeze' and 'go away'. They are giggling and wiggling and having a blast avoiding the bubby orange monster.

I must add an update:

Lord Smelly Blanket made a quick appearance to the kitties' delight and now they are sitting in the window, waiting for their bubby monster to come and eat them up!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween...

I'm not a huge fan of Halloween. I am a fan of the dressing-up aspect, but that's about it. I don't like my kids having tons of candy, I don't like the crowds at the local Halloween 'carnival' and I don't like the stress that comes from last-minute costume making (that, of course, is usually my own fault--which makes me even less happy about the situation!).

In the past, we've tried to find original costume ideas that are fairly easy to make. Some of the greatest hits include:
  • Jim: a Chipmonk (potato chips attached to one of his robes) and a Coat of Arms (literally). He was also a devil in a blue dress two years ago--that was impressive.
  • Me: I was a chocolate moose one year. This year I had an Identity Crisis (name tags with different names all over me).
  • Samuel: Matthias and Basil Stag Hare (from the Redwall series), Einstein (his wild frizzy hair was perfect) and Ford Prefect (from Hitchhiker's Guide). Intellectual costumes for that boy.
  • Moriah: Rainbow kitty (back when she was 4, I think), Harry Potter, Robin Hood and this year, a Lame Excuse (crutches, excuses on her shirt).
  • Susannah: Rock Star (complete with gold pants!), Luna Lovegood, a spa girl and this year, Dr. Pepper (lab coat, red peppers, stethoscope).
  • Abigail: monkey, ballerina this year
  • Bethany: snowboarder, Blue this year
Last year Jim, Abigail, Bethany and I went as the Flintstones, too. Won the family contest. :)

So, see, I don't think it's all bad. I love thinking of funny costumes and making people laugh. Once I'm in costume and out and about, I can mostly forget the stress that lies beneath the surface of the fun. But I also usually have Jim to share the load....

This year, Jim was part of a "Murder Mystery Tour" that the Resort put on. There were about 10 folks who acted out a 'whodunnit' murder mystery--partly on a train ride out to Spencer Glacier and then partly up at the Resort. His character was Count Dabodies and he had a great time spiking his hair, painting his fingernails black and talking somewhat like the Count on Sesame Street. He came to the part rather late (on Wed.) to take the place of a cast member who was called for jury duty. I was pretty excited for him, but it meant I was soloing Halloween stuff since he'd be gone from 9:30 am-10 pm.

The girls and I did hit the Halloween Carnival at the Daylodge. Eh. Some games that the little girls didn't understand or couldn't really do, candy for prizes, overpriced food and lots of people. I kept the little girls in one small area of the Daylodge and they did finally get good at a game where they walked around a small circle of colored disks; when the music stopped if your color disk was chosen you got some candy. Whoo hoo. The stop at the carnival was enough for the little girls. The big kids was a different story.

Trick-or-treating around Girdwood is a little different than most places. The streets are completely dark beyond whatever house lights there may be. There aren't really many neighborhoods so you end up driving your kid around a bit to be able to find enough houses to get candy from in the first place. And it's usually pretty snowy and cold.

I had previously informed our three older kids that if they wanted to trick-or-treat they'd have to figure it out somehow because there was no way I was loading up little girls to drive older kids around to beg for candy. (That's Daddy's job!) Moriah and Susannah hooked up with some friends and went around for close to three hours in 24 degree temperatures. brrrrr. No snow yet, though, so at least they didn't have to wear boots!

Samuel tried to hook up with a couple of friends, but they called him too late for me to be able to drop him off to where they were. He was to be the escaping human to his friends' zombies, but alas, his "Zombie B-Gone" spray went unused. I guess a 14 year old doesn't need to go out begging for candy. Especially when his dad buys a huge bag of candy for us to give out and we don't have many visitors (although we had the most we've ever had this year). There's lots of candy left over.

Not many Almond Joys though. Or Snickers. Funny, that.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recently heard

"I'm broken"--said by Bethany as she was watching her reflection 'break' a little as she moved her head back and forth between two sections of our medicine cabinet/mirror.

"What's that noise?"--asked by Abigail, specifically when she pointed at the words and wanted to know what the next part of the song was in Hush Little Alien (a cute book with words to the tune Hush Little Baby).

(I'm aware I haven't posted photos yet of our recent family walk. No time. Plain and simple. Sorry!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Flattery will get you nowhere, but *bribery*...

will likely get results.

Yesterday was picture day at Girdwood K-8. That meant the older girls competed for shower and bathroom time with me before school, making for a very rushed morning.

It also meant that siblings were welcome to come during lunch and get their photos taken too. (you see where this is going, don't you?) We I thought it was a good time to get the little girls' picture taken, especially seeing as we haven't done any portrait studio trips with them. At all. (yes, those last children really do get the shaft, don't they?)

Because I was working, Jim had the task of getting babes ready for pictures and getting to the school on time. I left him with 'if I were here this morning, this is what I'd do...' kind of suggestions directions (such as: keep them in jammies, give them a mid-morning bath, dress them in the pre-selected cute outfits once worn by Moriah and Susannah for photos taken about the same age...you know, suggestions).

If we wanted to pay by credit card, it meant that we'd have to pre-pay online, something I was hesitant to do in case the girls bailed or balked. But Jim forgot the check book (totally forgivable considering his morning!), so I went ahead and paid online. We did get the okay to have them pose together, hoping to keep stress to a minimum and be frugal all at the same time.

Unfortunately, the schedule got changed around and the sibling time got pushed back. And we were behind four or five other siblings. And the babes hadn't eaten lunch yet. And they wouldn't cooperate. At all. No, I take that back. Bethany sort of cooperated. A little. I knew there had been a good reason not to pay ahead of time. Sigh.

The gal taking the photos tried to get the little girls to sit back to back on a overturned step. Here's somewhat of a running commentary of what we probably sounded like:

Look, girls. You can sit up on this! Can you put your backs together like you're leaning on a chair? Please? Oh, come on Abigail, just climb up. Good job Bethany! Abigail don't you want to be in the picture too? Please? Bethany, can you smile? Abigail, are you sure you don't want to sit up here with sis? Sigh. Let's get down so your friend can get his photo.

(insert small break here while one of their little preschool friends sat and smiled for several photos.)

See girls? It's painless! Can't you smile just like your little friend?? Please? Oh, look! Bethany climbed right up! Abigail, don't you want to play choo choo and sit like you're on a train? No? Okay. Bethany, please get your hand out of your mouth. Can you put your hand in your pocket? No, not in your mouth sweetie. Can't you smile? Abigail? That's right! Climb up...oh, or not. Bethany, you don't want Abigail to be with you? Bethany, let's get down so someone else can go.

(insert another small break while a couple of staff members were photographed.)

{Finally, one of the moms helping suggested bribing them (do you have any chocolate nearby?)}. Why, yes! In my office as a matter of fact! Jim, would you run and grab two mints? Hey girlios...if you climb up on the step and smile, you can have some chocolate when you're done.

What followed that sentence was immediate compliance. Immediate. Two little girls, sitting back to back, smiling only as toddlers/almost preschoolers can: with slightly scrunched up faces. The gal was so very patient through the whole ordeal and actually got a pretty good shot of them together. I think she was willing to try again, but I was so relieved to have at least one good shot that I called it good and the babes got their just rewards. If I had been smart, I would have found a camera to record the after-photo-session choco-mouths, but I'm sure you can all imagine the happy smears of chocolate around their lips.

That same brilliant mom said, as we were happily blocking out the last 20 minutes of our lives, "whoever said you shouldn't bribe kids never had kids." I'm sure a truer word was not spoken that day.

(And yes, Mom helped herself to some chocolate once Dad and babes had gone home...don't know if Dad treated himself to anything, but he sure deserved to! It was a little too early to have a beer!)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Family walk and ice cream

We all have been thoroughly enjoying a prolonged fall this year...it has been fairly mild and sunny and there are still leaves on several trees! Usually by this time we've had at least one snow and some is often sticking around. But not yet. So, we used our grace period wisely and ventured out with everyone once the babes were up from their naps.

We drove out to the start of the Gird to Bird trail (or is it Bird to Gird?) and walked out about a mile. Poor Hurley was almost left in the car in all the hub bub of getting the seven humans out of the car and pointed in the right direction. Only when we were passed by a lady walking four dogs did we realize the poor pup was likely whining and wondering why in the world we brought him along only to leave him behind. Oops.

The sun was shining, the scenery was, as always, amazing and I'd like to think the family had a great time together. I know I did. We had two toddlers running, a teenager sharing random trivia (Samuel, of course), one skateboarder (Moriah), one roller-blader (Susannah), a dad leading the charge and a mom bringing up the rear (when the running toddlers started getting tired).

Ice cream was our eventual destination, a semi-bribe for the littlest girls to keep them going. They both wanted pink ice cream...we all hoped the strawberry flavor was acceptable, as there weren't really any other pink choices. I found it a little funny that we all were pretty chilly by the end of our walk and yet there we all were, eating ice cream. Even Samuel relented and got some after drinking his sweetened chai tea.

There aren't many (any?) days like this left before the snow flies. Sure glad we could share a bit of today's glorious weather with each other.

(pictures will have to wait until tomorrow...it's time for bed!!)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Toddler Speak

There are days that the little girls' vocabulary and comments surprise me, like tonight when Bethany, talking about a small milk spill, said "is not my fault". Or when Abigail asks "what you talkin bout?" as she is concentrating hard on a conversation two or more people are having.

Bethany, especially, seems to grasp more 'complex' sentence structure and makes me laugh regularly with her observations. Abigail seems to search for the right words more often and she might have two or three 'false' starts to a sentence before the right words click into place.

A few of the more charming words in use right now include
munch box (Abigail)
lobbypops (Bethany)
paydough (both)
sad-dle (cereal...both)
do-oy (door...both)
cah-ee (car...both)

Abigail recently tried to express to Jim that there was a goose named Abigail in a movie she was watching (Aristocats, if you're really curious). It came out "My name Abigail....goose". She tried and almost got it. :)

Bethany occasionally will add an extra 'l' if a previous word has an 'l' in it. Or, she'll pronounce a b as a p or vice versa. Such as: a blue blate (plate) or 'blease'. Sometimes her lobbypops become lobblyplops.

Both girls also like singing a great deal. Abigail is the girlio who will sing familiar songs and will do pretty well at getting most of the words. She'll even surprise us by randomly singing a song that she hasn't heard that much. Like when she was singing parts of the third verse of Jesus Loves Me.

Bethany's singing varies between words she knows and complete jumbles of nonsense words to a tune she knows. She also gets this great 'vibrato' at times (which I think I've mentioned before). I've gotten some video of the singing, but I'm not sure about putting a fairly long video on the blog. I'll look into it.

All in all, cute girls, cute words. What more can you ask for with toddler speak?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Powerful moment

What I'm about to blog about won't be understood by everyone and might even cause scoffing or eye rolling. (How's that for a starting sentence??) But, as a friend challenged our Bible study group tonight, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" and the answer is: I'd eagerly post about a powerful moment I had about/with Moriah and Susannah tonight.

A little back story: Susannah seems to be entering a 'sixth grade' phase of "You're not my friend" and "You're not in my group" kind of behavior with another girl. I don't think either girl is attempting to be 'mean', but they are both leaders of sorts in their classroom and I think they are subconsciously attempting to establish who is more influential in the classroom. That all being said, Susannah has been somewhat divisive within her class and has surely had her share of uncharitable thoughts toward this other girl.

I shared at Bible study tonight that I was concerned about the situation, especially because Moriah had been drawn into it and had 'sided' against her own sister with this other girl. I use the term 'sided' loosely, because it wasn't much more than a few sibling-rivalry-fed words. But it still hurt Susannah and gave the appearance that Susannah's closest person to her on earth thought poorly of her.

One of my fellow Bible study gals shared a scripture from Ephesians that was appropriate and prayed it before I left to go home. Prayed it using Moriah and Susannah's names instead of 'you'. Prayed it as if Paul were writing directly to them. WOW. (yes, it made me cry)

Once I got home (and got babes to bed and finally ate my supper), I called the girls over and I did the same thing. I prayed scripture for and about my girls. Girls that are in the midst of some 'frenemy' type 'games'. Girls that don't always think about the consequences of their words and actions. Girls who are more often than not generous and caring friends to others. Girls that fill my heart with joy. Girls that I am incredibly honored and blessed to call my daughters (Yeah, yeah, Jim gets a little credit for them, too, but this is my story for tonight!).

It was powerful for me to be the one doing the praying and believe me, I will be doing more of this type of praying. What an amazing way to make scripture come alive and seem truly relevant and what an amazing way for me to show my girls how much my God means to me and to how I parent them.

This might sound icky pukey preachy and if it does, I'm sorry (I was going for slightly pious). But I had an amazing moment with my God and my girls tonight and I just had to share.

Peace.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Once upon a time...

a wise and generous queen mom started writing a fairy tale family blog. She wrote about her amazing children fairly often, letting far-flung family and friends read about fancy balls, exciting duels and happily-ever-afters daily life, big events and funny toddlerisms. She posted charming and often witty stories that shared a small slice of their chaotic yet content family life.

Then, one dark and stormy night busy school year it all changed. Well, some of it changed. The mom took on a fierce dragon a new subject to teach and life got decidedly interesting. The mom found her time a little more scarce even as her children's amazing-ness remained the same. Actually, it's possible that her kids had become even more amazing, but her faithful followers would not necessarily know that.

Dear readers, take heart! The brave mom will once again emerge victorious and will get back to writing more often. In the meantime, she encourages you to imagine the Doepken family as fortunate fairy-tale folks...singing with woodland creatures, wearing glass slippers and keeping their little cabin in the woods tidy for their height-challenged friends.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

12 years ago...

I was in labor with Moriah and Susannah, almost 5 weeks early. My water had broken around 9:30 and by about midnight things had gotten very interesting.

Moriah was born at 2:49 am at a respectable 5 lbs. 2 oz.
Susannah was born at 2:53 am at a slightly more respectable 5 lbs. 11 oz.

Since that early morning, they have brought us so much joy, laughter and blessing.

Happy Birthday my sweet girls. I love you so very much.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lion King

Jim and I had a lovely date night last night with our three 'olders' and went to see The Lion King. Jim's parents gave us a wonderful early Christmas present and got us tickets and babysitting so we could go.

Can I just say that it was AWESOME??!! The kids all LOVED it , Jim and I LOVED it and we are so very grateful that we had the chance to go (thanks again Betsy, for making it happen!).

We had mezzanine seats right off the left aisle, which were very decent seats. Susannah was directly on the aisle and she had quite the close view of a huge elephant that came lumbering by, followed by its baby. We saw birds flying, antelopes loping, hyenas skulking, zebras galloping and giraffes...giraffing. (???) We saw Mufasa teaching, Zazu advising, Scar scheming, Simba pouncing, Rafiki foreseeing, Timon and Pumbaa gallivanting, and Good triumphing.

We saw beautiful costumes that mimicked animal forms in surprising and innovative ways. We heard strong voices singing mostly familiar songs. We peered through binoculars, trying to make out intricate details. We gaped at the engineering, whispered about how we thought something worked and we pointed to our favorite sights.

For me, it was pure joy to watch our kids watch the show. The girls were spellbound and Samuel was mightily impressed. We were all amazed by the talent, the story, the costumes and the effects. We enjoyed a magical evening together that none of us will soon forget.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Moriah's X-C

Our kids are not front-runners for X-C. Never have been, probably never will be. But they all run to be healthy and to have a fun team experience. Because they aren't 'placers', they run against themselves, trying to better their times throughout the season.

Moriah was ecstatic to see that she had shaved off nearly a minute from her x-c run yesterday, as compared to two weeks ago at the same course. Exactly the kind of self-improvement that makes her think "ah, practice makes a difference!"

Way to go, Moriah!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Abigail the storyteller

Tonight during dinner, we were treated to Abigail's recounting of the trip she and her sister took with their daddy out to Big Game Alaska. (It's really the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, but it was Big Game when we first moved to Girdwood and that's what it will always be to us.) She seems to like to tell us all about things like this, which is incredibly endearing.

Abigail told us about the owls, "one up in tree, one in house".

She told us about the moose, and showed us how they moved their heads up and down. (two male moose were hitting their racks together and she was trying to explain that through motion)

She told us that the porcupine was stinky (I can't 'spell' how she pronounced porcupine, but I promise it was cute) and that it put its arm up 'like dis' (with her left arm straight up).

She told us that the elk made noises in his throat and then she proceeded to try to 'gulp' like the 'big ek' had done.

She's done this after some other experiences and it's a joy to watch her search for words and put them together so that we can 'see' what she saw. It's fun to watch her facial expressions, too, as she tries to get us to understand everything.

I'm looking forward to hearing more from her in the future. Our little storyteller.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lovely weekend

We had two days of sunshine (including Friday), making this weekend awesome for the weather. We also had one day of Son-shine (*wink*), making this weekend awesome for the love.

Jim and I took a walk Friday afternoon, the 'big' girls ran/hiked part of the mountain with their x-c team, Samuel enjoyed an evening around a bonfire for his x-c spaghetti feed and the little girls had fun playing at Little Bears.

Yesterday was another beautiful day, although we didn't take advantage of the weather quite like we could have. I slept in late, Jim ran to town with Moriah and Susannah and Samuel went to hang out with a friend. The little girls did get to ride their 'bikes' and I wish I had gotten a photo when the two of them fit onto one tricycle together. Next time, if they are game to try it again.

Today, the weather was kinda rotten. But the day was still beautiful because the church did another 'day of service' in the community.
  • Samuel helped out by babysitting (he has a stress fracture in his left foot and can't do a whole lot)
  • the girls (and several others) helped 'fling cookies' (passed out cookies to random folks as a sign of God's love) and babysat after Samuel had to go to work
  • I scraped old stain off a deck at a non-profit's building
  • several folks painted at the same non-profit's building
  • others chopped and delivered wood for a man who seriously broke his leg and heats his house with a wood stove
  • two ladies played Scrabble with a shut-in
  • another group painted cubbies at Little Bears
  • and Jim ran from place to place making sure everyone had what they needed and fielding calls and directing folks to the right places
We even had a new family show up, expecting regular worship, who jumped right in and helped!

It was awesome, rain or no rain.

God is good.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mondays...yuck

I will be dreading each and every Monday from now to the end of the school year. Except the ones we have off for various holidays and breaks of course.

My day is jam packed full of classes and I don't have a lot of 'down' time. That alone makes for a harried mom. Add to that two little girls who are very tired after a long (but fun and active) day at day care and we're likely to get Monday late afternoons and evenings full of grouch and crying.

Like this afternoon, when the little girls were so tired that they were completely upset and unhinged over getting and eating goldfish crackers. Weeping and gnashing of teeth over where the goldfish were placed (on the couch, really?) and really letting go (Miss Abigail) when Hurley dared to snag some of the easy-to-reach tasty snack.

Like tonight at dinner, when Abigail was very insistent on getting yogurt for dinner. (Um, no, that's not for dinner sweetheart.) So insistent she sent her fork sailing over the table, where it hit Susannah's fork and made quite the impact.

Like tonight before bed, when the babes were sitting on their last potty stop and Bethany put the soft toilet insert on her head. Jim said 'oh yuck, don't do that' and Bethany dissolved into hysterics over some imagined stern reprimand. (Although this isn't just tonight...she's done this lately a few times with Jim for some reason. It's truly unwarranted. He's a very sweet and gentle daddy.)

Like tonight after finally getting the little girls settled and my finding out that the three older kids have eaten the rest of the ice cream that I was counting on enjoying once the crabby babies were not underfoot any longer. grouch grouch (Truth time worthy of a "Not Me Monday" seen on other blogs: I was very hard on Susannah over this. I was SO frustrated and let that dictate how much my lecture turned into a rant.)

Tomorrow is Tuesday. I'll be getting up early as Samuel gets ready for school and then going in early for a staff meeting. I think my day will be a little less stressful tomorrow. I think. If I can stay awake.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not-togetherness, togetherness

Yesterday was a twinteresting day for our twin sister sets. (trying to be clever, here...bear with me)

Not-together:

Bethany had been sick with an on again, off again fever that came back Monday night. She was semi-okay Tuesday but was still slightly feverish at 4:30 in the morning Wednesday morning. Which meant I wasn't going to send her to day care, even if she had shed her fever by the time she woke up. The decision then became: do we send Abigail alone? Without her buddy? Without her sister?

Jim decided that, yes, having at least one busy little toddler gone would be beneficial for him. We thought we could sneak Abigail out because Bethany was still sleeping fairly hard, but Abigail chose to wail loudly for her baby doll and woke her up. Jim quickly spirited Abigail away to get her dressed and ready while I distracted Bethany. We fully expected Bethany to be upset at not going to Little Bears, and once she caught wind that Abigail was leaving and she wasn't, we got the full-on tears and "I wan go Little Bears!" I shook her out of her crying by getting her dressed. This made her think she was heading to Little Bears too and I did not try to disabuse her of the notion. I just never said "yes, you're going." (*guilty grin*) Jim got back from taking Abigail as Bethany was looking for her shoes, and we had another round of tears when Jim gently told her she wasn't going.

I did not think this boded well for Jim's intention of having a productive morning, but happily I was wrong. After the initial sadness and tears, Bethany settled into a morning alone. Apparently Abigail was perfectly happy as well. So much for my fear that they'd miss each other too much and be sad all morning. Yay! Gotta love when those unfounded fears are proven wrong!

Together:

Moriah and Susannah had their first X-C running meet yesterday. As sixth graders at a K-8 school, they are allowed to run with middle school kids (in the 7th grade races). Both were apprehensive and both were hopeful they wouldn't finish last. Moriah was also a little nervous about trying out her new shoes, which she has mixed feelings about because of how 'ugly' they look. She hadn't had a chance to really run in them yet and try to break them in. They seemed to do okay for overall, but her feet still hurt after the race.

Here is why I call this part of the post togetherness:


They stayed pretty close to each other the entire race. This photo is taken toward the very end of the 1.8 mile race, on a long hill that you could just tell sapped the runners as they made their way past. The girls were absolutely exhausted by the end, but they were very pleased to have finished in front of several other girls.

Oh, and Samuel chose to ride the bus all the way back to Girdwood only to turn back around and drive into town with me to cheer his sisters on. What a sweetie. (but don't ask the girls if they concur...his version of cheering was a little too enthusiastic for those tired runners!)

Monday, September 7, 2009

I am not afraid

Can I just say that? I am not afraid for my kids to listen to a president address the nation's students. I'm excited that our president is taking time to speak to the importance of an education and perhaps light the fire of motivation in some children who don't have a 'cheerleader' at home to do that for them.

And even if this was a president whose policies I disagreed with, I'd still remain unafraid for my kids to hear what he/she had to say. I'd urge them to listen just as intently. I'd remind them to respect the office and the person. I'd want them to know that it's okay to hear 'other' points of view.

I'd teach them what I disagreed with concerning this or that policy/statement and why. I'd also teach them that respectful discourse requires two sides listening to each other and sharing differing viewpoints. I'd teach them that that's how we learn (and sometimes realize we don't know everything).

Listening to a presidential speech is a teachable moment, regardless of what 'side' you're on.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Scary mall moments

After watching Samuel run this morning at a X-C meet, the girls and I made somewhat of a day of it in Anchorage. We stopped by Skinny Raven first and spent way lots on specially made sneakers for Moriah (supposedly made for the way her feet pronate and supposedly helpful as she runs). They're kinda funky looking and have high wedge-like heels, but Moriah says they feel great so we have high hopes that running won't be as painful from now on.

Then we headed to the mall to do a tiny bit of shopping (read: Mom wanted to hit Eddie Bauer in case the capris I loved were on sale/in my size, which they were/weren't). We ate lunch first before heading to the clothing stores. The little girls fell in love with 'magic stairs' and we rode them a lot. A lot. After a few bargains were purchased, I was very ready to leave the mall with two very tired toddlers but I thought I'd like to pop into Gymboree to check out their sales.

That's when I lost Abigail for a few moments/minutes. (honestly I have no idea how long it was; it felt like an eternity) All four girls and I had just come out of JC Penney's, Moriah and Susannah sharing the responsibility of keeping track of the babes while there so we could all look at things. We had told the babes that we were going to find more 'magic stairs' (after riding them in Penney's), but those Gymboree sale signs were too tempting. I was assuming we had broken back into the 'big girls watch the little girls' formation so I could look at the sale racks when I heard Susannah ask "where's Abigail?"

I had Bethany next to me and thought Abigail was close by too. Nope. A quick check: no Abigail. I ran to the door of the store and did a quick scan of the three ways she could have walked away from the store, frantically recalling what she was wearing and looking for a bright pink shirt. (the mall has four floors, each of them wide and open with cut aways to look up and down between floors) Nothing. Turned back to the store, where Susannah was still doing a sweep of the clothing racks and the tv area. Nothing. I turned back (after a helpful associate asked if I was looking for anything in particular...uh, yes, my little daughter!) to the door and scanned again. Abigail was out in the hallway, almost to the escalators, a fair distance from the store. She had gone down one part of the hallway and had even turned a corner and had made it almost to the end of that next part of walkway. She was heading back in the direction of the store. I ran all out to go grab her, completely and utterly relieved and shocked she had gotten so far so quickly.

There was a security guard following her, about five feet behind. I shot him an extremely grateful look (and resisted the urge to defend myself) and hugged Abigail with all my might. Then we got the heck out of the mall (after riding the 'magic stairs' a couple more times)! :) We all think that Abigail was looking for the escalator when she walked off, since that was what I had told the little girls we were doing before my last minute jaunt into Gymboree.

Still feeling a little shocked and shaky about the whole thing. I have never had that happen before and I do NOT want it to ever happen again. Susannah was pretty freaked out too. She did so well, though, alerting me and helping me look. Moriah was great at keeping Bethany with her as I searched. I am so very thankful that our little 'girly' excursion ended just fine.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Overheard at the table

Last night:

Abigail asked for more pepper and more 'leaf' out of the salad.


This afternoon:

Bethany, when encouraged to take a bite out of the little romanita tomato rather than put the whole thing in her mouth, said "No, I want to drink it."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Over hill, over dale

Samuel had a X-C meet yesterday down in Soldotna. Early pick-up time and long day and lots and lots of schools from all over the state. There were over 300 runners in the boys' open race alone. Samuel felt really good about his run, which was a 5K. He didn't walk at all and finished ahead of many other runners. Another parent who went down for the meet took a photo of Samuel running.


Samuel thinks he looks half dead. I think it looks like he's giving his all.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday relaxation

Moriah and Susannah are off baby-sitting all day. Samuel is down in Soldotna at a x-c meet all day. Jim has gone to Anchorage for some much-needed church and grocery shopping.

And I'm just sitting here, watching the little girls finger paint and listening to Laurie Berkner. After our very full week, this is just what I need. Low key art. Oh, and no need to shower by 7:30 am. Or at all?

As God and Bruce say in Bruce Almighty, it's "goooooood".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

School's in!

Counting the three days last week and the two days so far this week, we've all got a week's worth of school under our belts. Thought it was high time I gave an update.

Samuel is figuring out just how to manage getting up at an ungodly hour (5:15 am) to catch his bus at an equally ungodly hour (6:04 am), homework, x-c running, one shift a week at The Ice Cream Shop and keeping old and making new friends. So far, so good. He likes his classes for the most part, although his soccer elective is taught by the soccer coach and has much harder workouts than expected and his English class is a little 'eh' so far. He is thoroughly enjoying Spanish and Biology.

Moriah and Susannah started sixth grade and are back with all their classmates for the first time since second grade. Girdwood School is sorta kinda doing a middle school model this year, so the girls will have some fledgling experience with the middle school teachers and with choosing electives.

Moriah is 'stuck' in keyboarding because the other elective she wanted was full. But thankfully her teacher has found a fun way to get them practicing and Moriah's attitude has changed somewhat. She's also going to be in beginning band, choosing to play percussion. Percussion is really a set of 'bells' (looks like a xylophone to me) and a drum pad (rather than a real snare drum, much to my relief). She's pretty excited about playing and we have been blessed with borrowing a percussion set from a friend.

Susannah is in the coveted Outdoor Adventure elective and is spending most afternoons outside running around or going on the trails near the school. She is also going to be in beginning band, with the flute as her instrument of choice. At least it will be once we actually get one for her. In our free time. Once we figure out a time to get to Anchorage. At some point. Susannah's instrument choice is the smallest yet of all our kids' instruments and will be easily portable, in contrast to Samuel's cello that was not even allowed on the bus (!). Anyone out there have an old flute lying around, please send it our way!

I have quite the full plate so far this year. I have my usual six classes for the regular library classes. I also have a jr. high research class every day before lunch, which takes up about a quarter of my limited part-time time. I will have every kid in 7th and 8th grade as they rotate through my class, a technology class and a student government class. And boy howdy is this first group of students a challenge (all boys). They are allll over the place, and all of them have fairly high energy.

In addition to my regular part-time job, I'm also helping to substitute teach Spanish for the part-time World Languages position that is brand new to our school. Someone did take the job, but then bailed, leaving us high and dry shortly before school started. Rather than watch the position become jeopardized, I stepped in to help keep it alive. I cannot be an 'official' teacher because I don't have a teacher certification. But I did find out that I am eligible to be considered certified if I enroll in a certification program and take a basic competency test called the Praxis I. As I figure out daily lesson plans I also have to figure out if it's worth going for this certification. It is something I have thought about doing and it feels like this might be a great opportunity. Problem is, this might come with a high price for our family if Mom is busy with classes and working more. So I'll keep you all posted on what I decide.

The little girls are going to Little Bears three mornings a week and are happy to be going back to see all their friends. It'd be great to get them a couple of all-day slots, but things are currently full. That's great for our little day care but not so great for us. Child care continues to be an issue for my new 'full-time' job(s).

In many ways this feels like the 'same old same old' routine of years past. Get up, get ready, get to school, work. But in so many ways it's all brand new. Namely not seeing Samuel during the day and also working longer days. Well, and that whole getting up at that awful hour.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Family walk

It was a beautiful day today. Sunny and warm and too wonderful to stay inside for dinner. So Jim and I made a picnic of pb&j, apple slices, blueberries, carrot sticks, honey wheat pretzels and water and the family headed out to walk down to some picnic tables near the playground.

We walked, we talked, we ate, we swatted bugs, we played, we bought cookies for the way home, we refereed between the babes in the stroller (again) and we had an enchanted evening together.

Our family and house may get chaotic and some may not ever 'get' how contented we truly can be, but I was simply and utterly grateful for the blessings of my family tonight.

(I will post about the first week of school soon...that'll take a while!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Random toddler-isms

For the most part, the little girls have a pretty good handle on their sounds and don't mispronounce too many words. But every now and then they come up with something cute.

Ringa rosey hocka posey

My see my friends at Biddle Bears or My go potty (My instead of I)

Potty wock star (older sisters trying to get them to say 'Party like a rock star')

Ginkle ginkle little star

ouse = oreos

doggies are still often goggies

abcdefghijkl-em-em-pqrst-an-me-dub-yew-xyz no my now my abcees, neck time won you sing with me (Abigail's version)

abcdefghijkl lllll p qrstu-me-wxyandz no more now my abcs, neck time won you han mid me (Bethany's version)

And you all should know that right now, I'm sitting in my family room, surrounded by all five of my kids who are singing and/or dancing to "Living on a Prayer". Bethany is pounding on a box with a drum stick. Abigail is making a circle with her arms above her head and twirling every time the chorus with 'Ooooh-oh' said. Moriah is air guitaring, Samuel is singing and Susannah is singing into a Rock Band microphone.

Life is good.

Monday, August 17, 2009

School daze days

Backpacks? Check.
A few new clothes? Check.
Binders? Check.
Pens? Paper? Check. Check.

Yep, it's that time again. School begins on Wednesday.

For Samuel it begins much earlier than ever before...by over two hours (!). He'll be boarding the school bus at 6:04 am, almost 1.5 hours before his first class even starts. Yuck. I just hope he'll be able to doze on the bus.

For the girls, they'll be experiencing a little bit of a middle school feel by being able to take electives. They will also be with only sixth graders, the first time their class has been all together since second grade (rather than split between two classrooms).

For me, I'll be (at this point as far as I know) subbing for the world languages position that Girdwood has added for this year in addition to my regular half-time library job. There was a person hired who then bailed. So in order to keep the position at our school I've offered to sub and keep it going. We'll see what happens with that....

For the little girls, they start going to Little Bears three mornings a week. A place they love to go, a place where they see their friends.

For Jim, this means we'll all be scattering to our own places for part of the day and he'll try to get some work done during normal business hours. Maybe.

And for our house, school brings a whole new mix of schedules, happenings and juggling.

Wheee!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

X-C meet

Samuel had his first High School X-C running meet this morning. He only had nine practices under his belt before today and couldn't officially represent his school, but he still ran in the 'community' run and was happy with his time. (No photos...I was stuck in Girdwood because of having a spare tire on the Suburban and Jim was at a meeting in Anchorage this morning.)

I suspect more than a small part of him was glad that he wasn't 'official' today. That meant he couldn't wear the South Anchorage High School X-C uniform. Which meant he didn't have the wear the shirt that is too small for him (they ran out of his size, or so he thought). Which meant he wasn't teased about looking a little like a sausage, squeezed into his too-small shirt (yes, Mom and Dad both had a chuckle when he tried it on for us yesterday).

He found out there's a chance there are actually more shirts in his size, so he will be asking about that on Monday. Let's all hope he's right. Trust me.

Humpy Fest

Today was Humpy Fest, a small 'celebration' of the humpy salmon. The pink salmon that, as it gets bigger, becomes 'humped' and pretty ugly. Jim and I had our first salmon fishing experience fishing for pinks. We were SO proud of our fishing prowess and success way back in '97 or '98. Had NO idea they weren't that great to eat. *shudder* They're good for smoking or dog food. Maybe canning.

Are they worthy of a 'fest'? Perhaps. The Turnagain Lions Club hosts this annual event and it's usually pretty small. You can buy chances to have rubber ducks win you cash and prizes in the 'ducky race' (they release a bunch of rubber ducks upsteam and the first three to float across the finish line win). You can also buy a chance to win money in the 'fish fling' that was Jim's brain child a few years ago. The Lions have a trebuchet that launches a heavy metal fish into the air...wherever the fish's nose lands on a tarp covered in grid lines wins.

There is also a humpy derby, with prizes given to the biggest fish, the smallest fish and the ugliest fish. These humpies do get ugly. Especially after they've spawned. *double shudder* I have seen some truly gross humpies brought to the derby. This year, Susannah's fish was deemed ugliest so she won a small cash prize from the Lions.

We usually hang around much of the day at this event, because Jim is an active Lion. This year he and the older girls were there the longest. I brought the babes after their nap and we enjoyed watching the fish judging. The little girls have a new phrase in their vocabulary now: 'uggie fish' (ugly fish). Plenty of of those.