December 9, 2016

It is Beginning To Look - Oh Wait, Not Yet

Last Sunday we went out and found our tree.  Certainly an Alaskan tree at 10 feet tall but a trunk only 1 1/2" wide.  It was before Abigail's birthday but we figured it was our best bet at getting one in the daylight.  Darkness is so intense this time of year.  For Monday we covered the tree in birthday balloons.  Perfect, right.  Monday balloons and then Tuesday lights.  But then life happened.
The kids keep seeing Christmas lights on all of the houses in town and ask why we don't have ours up.  It will come, it will come.  I keep reminding them that in Little house on the prairie they put their tree up on just Christmas Eve.  Going with that time scale I still have two week to get my act together, right??

December 8, 2016

2 1/2

Last Friday wasn't just any old day at our house.  It was Naomi's 1/2 birthday.  We keep 1/2 birthdays pretty simple but there is the recognition, ability to choose dinner, no chores to do and a special dessert with of course a lot of singing happy 1/2 birthday to you all day long.
Naomi is a typical 2 year old these days and likes to express herself by turning down food at the table, suddenly not knowing how to put on her own bib, finding the act of washing her hands temper tantrum material and such.  But when she was asked what she wanted for dinner she didn't have trouble making the decision to have grapes on the top of her list.  So last Friday this family ate grapes and tacos.  A favorite for all.
For her special dessert I made brownie cupcakes, cut them in half and added a layer of ice cream before putting them all outside at -20 to freeze together once again.  The brownie ice cream sandwiches were a hit to all, except maybe our resident 2 year old.  But even though she only wanted to lick out the ice cream she did love being sung too.  2 year olds often don't know what they want but attention is certainly the top of their yes list!

This little 1/2 birthday led to a lot of confusion on Monday when we suddenly celebrated Abigail instead of Naomi but understanding will come.  Regardless of why, it is always fun to be celebrated.  1/2 birthdays are the perfect occasion to remind our kids that they are special to us all the time.

December 7, 2016

Wonder

The kid's mooseketeer group took a field trip to the fire station recently.  When near the firemen I was mostly in the back holding a Naomi who was screaming, "GO AWAY, GO AWAY." over and over again.  What a lovely time.
But a friend of mine was closer to the other kids and caught this image.  I love the adoration that can be seen on Ethan's face.  I love this little boy and all of his big dreams.

December 6, 2016

6 Is Good

Yesterday was such a good day.  No matter how simple one can make birthdays, the anticipation sometimes takes away the fun because little bodies just can't take it all in.  But six, it was good.  A good balance of being young enough to find joy all day long but old enough to not be completely worn out by it.  Our newly six year old had a wonderful day!
 This year Abigail really wanted a butterfly birthday, or maybe a bunny birthday or wait - a dora birthday, could we do a mermaid birthday???  This is what I have heard for the past 6 months.  After letting her pull lead decision on her 1/2 birthday and then finding her disappointed,... I decided to tell her I would surprise her this season.  Out of her top picks we went with the butterfly theme.  This was her cake this year.  My first time with fondant for the butterflies but a revisit to our favorite buttercream frosting recipe.  It still takes me hours to decorate a cake but the adventure is always fun.
 Abigail woke up to being sung a song, a candle to blow out, no chores, no school and the question what do you want today?  Her top two choices:  1.  I want to learn to knit and 2. I want to learn to light a candle.  So on this morning she knit a row, and measured that to be exactly 5" and was so proud.  She also stood at the sink with a box of matches and learned to strike one on the box.  Knitting was hard but how proud she was.  The match - plain old scary and she walked away saying maybe another day.  Ethan, well lets just say this boy is ready to be 6 when he can learn to light a match and knit a row.  Watching Abigail learn something new was fascinating to both him and Naomi!
And how else did my girl spend the morning of freedom?  Well, like most mornings to be honest.  Nursing all of her babies back to good health.  Dr. kit, most used toy in our house, sign of the future and to me, something I never get sick of seeing her enjoy.

Our afternoon we packed up, headed to town to meet Josh and all enjoyed going to the movies as a family for the first time.  We went to see Moana.  Not a movie for everyone but one that this family loved!!  My kids don't know the theater so watching their faces and hearing Naomi shout "I like this movie, I don't like this movie." through the trailers cracked me up.  The actual movie itself was a great time for Josh and I to cuddle our babies and laugh and smile at the joy it was for them to be there.  

(One memory to remember.  When I told the kids in the morning we were going to go to the movies I showed them the trailer online to get them excited.  After the 2 minute trailer I asked what they though and if they wanted to go.  Abigail turned to me with a puzzled look on her face and said, "Looks good but isn't that movie kind of short to go to town for?"  Explaining that the actual movie was more then two minutes long and she had watched just a preview made me laugh so hard!)
We came home to a special requested dinner, presents, skyping with grandparents, and cake.
Abigail went up to get ready for bed, had her height measured, we talked about how much she has grown, we read her stories and then we tucked her in.  She looked at me with a long face and said, "Tomorrow, no more birthday."  I confirmed that yes, it would be a whole 365 days until we celebrated her day again but instead of being sad we could be excited about 365 days of being six and all that fun that will be!  Yes, 6 is good!


December 5, 2016

Happy Birthday To Our 6 Year Old

Today we celebrate Abigail Kathleen.
 Oh, how this day has been anticipated by this girl.  When Naomi has her birthday in June we start the month to month count, then after Ethan's birthday in September she starts the day to day count down.
 And each time she says, "I only have Blank days until I turn six." My heart ached a little.  I get down on my knees, point her little face to mine and say, "Please, enjoy today, enjoy 5, enjoy what can be discovered now."
But as much as I beg her to slow down she just can't.  Life goes on and somehow the little baby I welcomed to the world at 12:35 am on December 5th when the temperature was -35 degrees and the northern lights were dancing, is now 6 years old.
 Abigail, I love watching you grow.  You are such an achiever and a go getter.  Ice skating - this year found you without a help of anything to stay upright.  Biking - this year you lost your training wheels. Swimming - your water wings have so little air in them they just fall off your arms.  You might be small but you are strong and pretty fearless!
 You are a worker.  The fun jobs are definitely your favorite (of course), and you will do your chores if asked but you are best at the "helpful" kind of chores.  You see, having to empty the dishwasher is a pain to you but if I need to hoe the garden, you are there.  Whenever you see a job where you can work with mama or daddy and you will be "grown-up" doing it you work until the job is done!
 You love nature.  This year has found you building homes for all the bugs you bring home so that they can be relocated to the yard, digging up mushrooms, having expanded rock collections, building homes for the wild bunnies in the brush.  The only wild animal you don't like at the moment are moose.  Your complaint, they just poop too much and it covers our yard.
 You LOVE to help to cook.  Where Ethan likes to help just for the act of cooking, you love to hep to eat.  You might not eat a ton at the table but when cooking you love to pop every single ingredients into your mouth.  This has caused some issues since somethings, lemon juice for example, doesn't always taste good solo before going into dinner.  Cooking with three is a trial but when I get to cook with just you we have so much fun.  You are such a helper and are sure you can do all things in the kitchen.
 Abigail, at age six your hair is starting to turn brownish in the winter darkness but I know it will lighten once again next summer.  You are just an inch taller then your brother but weight about 5 pounds less.  You wear size 5T but we are finding more and more the length of the arms and legs are getting short.  Soon we will be moving you into size 6 clothes.  You have lost one bottom tooth and have two more loose ones.  You still share a room with your brother and sister and sleep 11-12 hours at night with no naps.  
 You LOVE to plan things.  Plan the play for that day, plan the meal calendar with mama, plan just how we could rearrange the house so you could get your own bedroom, plan what projects need worked on and more.  Remember last summer when you planned the huge tea party?  Crown making, outfits, food, dishes and location were all written down and made just so.
And even though you can be shy in public at this house you are the queen bee when it comes to your siblings.  You know how things should go and being the oldest they both look up to you so much.  We try to balance playing with them instead of just bossing them but what a fine line it is for you.  As for Ethan and Naomi, they would rather be with you then anyone else!
 And just as you love to play with Ethan and Naomi you love your time to just be as well.  You will often come to me, pull on my arm and then whisper in my ear, "mama, we need some time, just you and me."  Date time with mama is one of your favorite things ever.  And we do have such good times together.
 You might be a small 6 year old but you are pretty fearless.  Climbing rock faces of the mountains (while the rest of the family takes the trail), climbing trees, being the first to the top of a climbing wall and running the fastest ahead are all things that you take great pride in and give your mama a lot of grey hairs.  Being there to cheer you on and not hold you back is a big job for me.
 Just like your dad, you LOVE to pick berries.  Alaska is a great place to be for this.  Just like being a hard worker as I mentioned earlier.  You get set on a task of making a pie, jam, setting blueberries aside for smoothies or anything and the goal of filling that bucket becomes intense.  Ethan, he loves to just eat his labors, you like to see results!
 This year we started on the crazy adventure of homeschool together.  As my first born you are there for all my faults as we stumble through this journey of parenting but how forgiving you are of me.  You don't love having to stop playing to work but you LOVE learning.  One of the joys of homeschool is we also get to pick our own holidays.  How fun that we get to say no school on birthdays!!
 Of all that we have learned this year your favorite is writing.  You can't get enough.  You write whatever you can think of.  You carry around a pen and pad of paper all day.  Letters, stories, notes, events, new words you hear.  They all must be recorded.
You know the saddest thing to me is to see you sad.  There are times as you get older that you get angry, contemplative, annoyed that things don't go your way and the sadness over you breaks me down.  I watch that and I see a little bit of childhood slip away.  How I wish to bundle you up, grab your smile, package your laugh, wrap up your bravery and seal in your dreams.  Becoming six is so big.  You have stepped away from preschool years.   You look outside of your family to see what the world thinks of things.  You stand out instead of imitate and dream big dreams.  I love everyday with you.  I love seeing your crazy outfits you pick in the morning, am humbled by how you obey and try to do things right, am encouraged by the joy in your face when I remind you how "known" you are, and lay awake at night praying God will grant me the wisdom, patience and joy of being your mother for just one more day!

December 2, 2016

Starting Advent

Yesterday I hung up two wreathes.  Not yet to the big birthday, but I figured if I slip in a few things here or there and it will be ok.  You see the weather has been super cold here.  Our house does great staying warm but when it drops below -20 F day after day, like this week, the house developed a chill.  Thus, I unpacked the living room curtains.  It is such a love/hate thing because I like the house warmer but boy to I miss the extra bit of light, even if it is only for a few hours, a day.  Makes the room feel so much darker and I certainly now looking forward to adding christmas lights to our rooms.
 But regardless of what decorating we have up we did unpack a few advent materials.
 We are reading through Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping The Greatest Gift advent book.  Grammie Klynstra sent up a chocolate calendar to share and Aunt Hillary sent the kids advent coloring books.
December is here, advent has begun and so far we are loving it all.

Plus today we celebrate Naomi's 1/2 birthday.  No longer just a 2 year in the house.  Now she will present herself to everyone she meets as a 2 1/2 year old.  A big step in growing up.

December 1, 2016

Memories To Hold Onto As Life Goes On

Well, it has now been a week since we left for the cabin.  Life is busy and back into full swing of friends, homeschool, work, and birthday preparations.  But even still, at the end of the day I pause and look at the pictures from our trip and the memories they bring back from our 48 hours of get away.
Our family walks
Seeing my kids laugh and giggle
Watch the kids crush up old and stale pilot bread for the animals just to turn around and grab a piece to eat as we continue on our adventures.
Seeing my little girl, who thinks she is a big girl and won't nap anymore, give up the fight and go for a 45 minute walk nap in the sled.  Don't worry, after we realized she was sound asleep we took a pic and then covered her up well.  She had a nice ride.
We were so relaxed.  Time to color, time to sing, time to laugh, time to go outside and look at all the different kind of animal tracks we could find.  Time to just be!
 Visiting a cabin with no electricity in the winter in Alaska means a lot of time in the dark and a lot of time to play with glow lights and glow sticks.  The favorite activity of the whole trip!!
Most importantly time to just be together.  I remarked to Josh last night that since our trip the kids have played, learned, worked and interacted better then they have for two months.  This trip was just what we needed to have a little bit of a reset.  Christmas season is upon us and with it a lot of fun but in the back of my mind is the reminder that we have just three months until our next visit to another State of Alaska Public use cabin.  Yeah for that!

November 30, 2016

Moving Into Christmas

In this house there is still not one piece of christmas decoration out.  You see Abigail's birthday is next week and well, that holiday must come first before it is overtaken with Christmas.  But the mind set is there and Josh and I have been tucking things aside for the holidays here and there.  One of the main gifts Josh and I decided to get the kids this year were new sleeping pads.  We have started camping and cabin dwelling enough that just a fleece blanket to lay on isn't fun for anyone.
 Even though it was a month early it seemed silly to us to not give the kids their gifts that they could be using at this cabin.  So we wrapped them up, brought them with us and presented them to the kids there where they could use their new gifts.
Honestly I wasn't exactly sure how the kids would react.  It is a sleeping pad after all, not a toy or activity.  But the kids didn't disappoint.  They were SO very excited.  They talked about them the whole trip, exclaimed how well they slept each morning and thanked us over and over.
A good choice for this little family that loves to go on adventures! 


November 29, 2016

Our Feast

Part of cabin dwelling with little people is keeping a steady balance of self entertainment and provided activities to keep the peace in a tight space.
 Since this trip was our Thanksgiving holiday I tried to have us focus on what we were thankful for and giving back.
 In this case we were giving back to the animals of the Alaska Range.
 Part of the feast we made were cheerios on pipe cleaners and orange peels lined with peanut butter and bird seeds.
 There wer no trees close to the cabin but we covered the bushes with our treats and treasures.  It was too cold for much animal activity while we were there but the kids were excited for a warm day when the animals come out and discover their treats.
 The day after thanksgiving we popped some popcorn on the little wood stove and had an honest attempt at making popcorn chains.  Naomi gave one or two a valiant effort.
Abigail actually filled about a 1/3rd of her string and Ethan, he enjoyed the snack immensely!  Taking care of those around us in ways that we can.  Something we all enjoy doing and the efforts fill the days and the hearts with happiness.  

November 28, 2016

Time In The Mountains

Last Thursday was a little different for this family.  Instead of getting up in the morning to cook a turkey we loaded up the truck and headed out of town.
 We brought lots of firewood, blankets, sleeping bags, winter gear and activities.
 We were heading to the mountains.
 A place with no internet, cell service, daily chores, cooking and school work.
 There are state of Alaska public use cabins all over the state and we were so excited to introduce a new one to the kids.  Super small, dark and rustic but perfect for a few days to grow closer as a family.
A cabin in the mountains, amazing stars, and northern lights that danced all around us each night.  Not a turkey dinner but for us, the perfect way to spend our thanksgiving holiday!

November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Oh what a day.  So much all around us to be so very, very grateful, thankful and blessed by.
This year we are trading a turkey dinner and all the fixings for family time and something a little different.  Can't wait to experience it all and come back next week with a lot of memories to share.  

November 23, 2016

History of Thanksgiving

Last week and this week we have been learning about the history of Thanksgiving.  Honestly the whole "teach a large historic event that became a national holiday" thing can be intense when you want to do it right and break it down to a 5 year old, and under, crowd.  
 We started by watching Charlie Brown's thanksgiving together and then took special days to learn more.  One day we learned about the Mayflower - where it came from, where it went and who it carried.  Then we took a look at the pilgrims - their reason for coming to America, their hardships, their work, and their outcome.  At the end of last week we rounded the study out with the Indians - who they were, why they were nice, what they taught the pilgrims and when did the first thanksgiving actually occur.
 This week I had a middle of the night thought regarding what else we could look at this week.  Abigail and I used the small foam "logs" Josh gets from work (the test tube slots that are removed from foam blocks for shipping test tubes to labs for sampling) and built a log cabin like the pilgrims might have made.
It was fun to watch Abigail work through all we had talked about last week.  In the end we had a cabin, an outhouse, a pine tree, garden with corn, squash/pumpkins and beans (thanks popeye for reminding us of the three sisters) and a wild turkey running in the yard.  I am not a big crafty mom.  Josh does most of the art and that is really a lot of painting and drawing.  It was fun this past few lessons to be reminded that cutting, gluing and crafting together with my big kindergartener is not always necessary but always fun!  Abigail is much more agreeable about math and reading when a craft is part of the lesson as well!  Learning about Thanksgiving - hands on makes the memories last longer.