Saturday, October 31, 2009


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 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 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'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.


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.