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
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.
Samuel wasn't that interested, as was expected.
Jim had fun playing with the stuff he saw (and getting Moriah to, too).

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


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.


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 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!