December 31, 2013

2013 Goals In Review

As I sit here on the last day of 2013 I look back at the year and am amazed.  I really can not believe what a difference a year has made.  Seriously!!  I have gone from a nursing mom of an infant with a toddler to a mother who has a toddler who was just weaned and a preschooler.  I have gone from thinking we would be a family of four forever to finding myself once again starting down this road towards a newborn.  I look at pictures and blog posts from last year and it really seems like it has been so much longer than just one year.  

As a review I thought I would take a look at my goals originally posted 1/1/13 and see how I did:

Kathleen’s Goals for 2013
(In no particular order)

Be more intentional about doing sit down projects/crafts with Abigail.
Yes, I do believe I did this.  We even do this with Ethan at the table too.  

Successfully grow potatoes again, after two bad years I need to back back on track
Potatoes were better this year but not great.  Still trying to figure this one out.  Why is it I struggle with successful potatoes so much?  Hummm.

Live for today and this year, don't let the idea of older kids and more financial security of the future stop us from enjoying the here and now for 2013.
We worked on this, I worked on this a lot this year.  I feel that I was extremely successful in the fact that we did a lot more "fun" and intentional things in 2013.

Try cooking at least one, maybe even two, new recipes a month to spice things up a little
You know I don't know if we did one every month but we sure did do a lot.  New favorites this year that I can think of are a chicken/rice casserole, a thai marinate on grilled salmon, and a brown rice version of jambalaya.

Explore more Fairbanks activities, especially in the summer, with the kids
This year I fully was able to grasp that it is easier to be out and about with the kids in the summer in the warmth and with a lack of snow gear.  So we did.  Parks, story hour at the library, city bus rides, the botanical gardens, frisbee golf and all.  We spent plenty of time at home with the garden, chickens and fun we have but I do feel we took Fairbanks on this summer and fully enjoyed it all.

Continue working towards being debt free.  This has been a long road but we are getting closer to the end each month, don't give up hope!
We did this folks.  As I look back on 2013 this is our biggest accomplishment for sure.  How thankful I am.

Do more family outings.
Yes, I would say we accomplished this for sure.  Not only with bigger trips like Michigan, Denali, Valdez, and Portland but also more small trips around town.  Hiking, picnics, parks and more.  It might be silly but we actually made a deal this summer to play a little bit as a family at least once a week.  For so many years we have worked, worked, worked on the house that it was good for us to remember that we needed to enjoy this life, intentionally if that is what it was going to take.  As we look back on 2013 this was one of the best things of all that we did.

Move Abigail to a twin bed and Ethan into the nursery sometime this year (imagining a lot of sleepless nights as a result of these two goals but I need to do it regardless)
Yes we did this and it turned out pretty great.  Abigail ended up in a toddler bed instead of a twin bed but in her words, "I am just a little girl, Mama." and the toddler bed fits her prefect.

Take the time, and be creative, to go on more dates with Josh
I would say yes and no to this one.  We had up and down points of the year where this was more frequent than others.  I can say that we are ending 2013 stronger than we started and for 7 1/2 years of marriage, that feels good.

Help Josh harvest wood this summer for preparation for next winter (this can not be considered a date).
Nope.  We did get a load of wood and Josh did an amazing job working on getting it all cut and stacked but I actually did very little.  The whole two kids, one of which couldn't walk but wanted to crawl, was a big part of it.  I did help some but not as much as in the past.  Many thanks goes to Josh for his endless hours of tackling this task so we are warm in the winter.

Work with Josh at keeping us health and in shape so we can enjoy life (this could be date material).
Yes and no on this one.  A third pregnancy has crippled us a little.  I did need to read this one though because there is still more we could do.  Focus needs to be a better goal for me here.

Oh 2013 what a year it was!!  

December 30, 2013

Those Long Winter Days

Last week Josh was able to be home from work both Wednesday and Thursday.  Wednesday, being Christmas and all, was relaxing, fun and simple.  When Thursday came and the temperatures were still around -30.  We didn't want to do much but something needed to be done.  Being home on a cold winter day as an adult is a whole different story than being home when you have little kids.  Fighting the dreaded case of boredom was upon us.
 So I declared the afternoon Family time and decided we needed to come up with activities that worked for all of us (15 month old all the way to a pregnant mama).  The first step was a maze.  Josh is so good at forts that once I gave him the idea of a maze it didn't take him long to gather all of our furniture/toys and household goods into one good maze.  

The kids loved the up and down, crawling, climbing and running around.  But of course after a little bit the same crazy maze can become not so crazy and just maybe we found our little 15 month old wandering back into trouble.
 So with that the maze became a hide and seek arena.  We all took turns and discovered that Ethan is great at finding, Abigail not so much.  But it was fun for all.
 Tired parents decided next that we needed a family activity that was a little more size appropriate (crawling under tables gets harder the bigger we get, imagine that).
 And as always clay with daddy, the artist, is always so fun.  This mama tends to keep the red - red, blue - blue and yellow - yellow.  Well, daddy instead teaches the kids the joy of the primary colors and how you can make just about any color you want from those three.
And even though we ended up with a whole lot of deep purple, it was fun for all.  Yes, the winter is long but if we can keep the ideas flowing we might just make it through.

December 27, 2013

The Role He Was Born To Play

Abigail loves her baby dolls.  They are dressed, rocked, read to, fed and more all in the course of each day.  From her Ethan is also learning these fine skills.  When we are in a crowd and there is a baby present Abigail is not the only one excited to see it.  Oh no, Ethan really does love every baby he has ever met.
This year is going to change a lot of things.  It will be hard to bring a third little person into our home.  To balance it all and to give to each what they need but as for how the kids will take it, I do believe Ethan will be in love.  Being a big brother was a role he was born to play.

December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

Oh the excitement, the preparations, the wishes, and all lead to one great day.
 Traditions run strong in the family and as we sat down to Christmas Eve service I smiled at my grandma's dishes and Josh's grandma's silver flatware. 
 Abigail, my admirer of all things pretty, agreed that yes, dinner did taste so much better when it was on a fancy plate.  
 Christmas morning, stockings, Santa, gifts, a breakfast of candy canes and all.
 With each new item there was joy.  How thankful we are to be blessed by so many people who love us and think of us.  
 Let me tell you, any doubt that you might have about a 3 year old and 15 month old knowing about which present is theirs and how to get it open, be assured they know all. 
Yes, a day full of pj's, play, family time and fun.  It was wonderful, relaxing and memorable.  Abigail stated more than once during the day that she believes since we were nice to Santa by putting out cookies and milk he is going to come again, soon.  Another year will be here before we know it, for now I am thankful for what we had this time around.

December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

O Holy Night,
the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in 
sin and error pining
til He appeared and the
soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, 
the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new
and glorious morn
Fall on your knees,
O, hear the angel voices
O night divine,
Oh night when Christ was born.

Merry Christmas from us to you.

Christmas Ready

Oh, there is so much to share on this last day before Christmas.  Stories of things we have done, pictures of places we have been.  But as I look over all I have to share I thought I would give you a glance at how we got ready for tomorrow.  
 First our birthday expert studied the box of cake mix and food coloring of choice.  Then we mixed up a cake for baby Jesus.
 It had to be perfect for the celebration to come.
 And in a recent visit to Santa's house we stopped by to visit baby Jesus.
 And remember the story of that magical night.
 Back home step two of tomorrow was getting ready.  Cookies to leave for Santa.  They just had to be frosted pink since that is the best color for every day of the year!
The kids had so much fun putting christmas sprinkles on each cookie.  Ethan was so good at it until he decided to take a quick lick.  Once he knew what he was working with the work end of this project was gone. 
 And when we went to visit santa we were sure to tell him that we were ready for him too.
Yes, the stockings have been hung with care.  We do hope Santa will be there!

Merry Christmas Eve To Each Of You.

December 23, 2013

The Count Down

I do love Christmas time.  The lights, songs, excitement, stories and all.  But I have found this year to be a little more tiring then most.  As I thought about it I realized that with little people the Christmas mood is on high every day of the December.  As simple as things are there is just no time for the excitement to slow down.  Christmas is coming and it is going to be great.
 One of the many ways we have gotten ready for Christmas, and helped Abigail realize how much time is left, has been to make a paper chain.  Each day Abigail and Ethan get to rip off one ring of paper and thus see how close we are to the big day.
 And so the excitement goes on.  In keeping with last year I decided to pick my battles and so we decided to put our tree up high again.  With our tree on top of our amour it lights up the entire room as it reaches up into the peak of our ceiling.  Plus we all get to enjoy it and the kids can't touch the needles.  
But knowing how hard that would be for Abigail this year I found a little pre-lite fake tree at a garage sale this past summer.  That is at Abigail's level and full of ornaments that can not break but can be moved around and enjoyed.  It has worked out so well.  The kids have been content and I have been super pleased to have the light of two trees in our house each day.  Christmas is coming, how exciting that is.

December 20, 2013

The Need To Create

A little over two weeks ago my to do list was very long, and I was tired.  So I convinced the kids that they would love to play in the basement and we all ventured downstairs.  There I threw my to do list to the wind and went in search of a pattern for a project I had in mind, thus adding something else to my to do list.
 Abigail had been given a hand me down night gown and my typically footed pajama girl was in love.  The chance to wear a dress, even at night, was such a wonderful thing.  The only problem was that the nightgown was a size 24 months.  My girl is small so the gown "fit" but the sleeves are a little short and the length only goes to just above her knees.  Ok if we lived in a warmer climate but these cold nights of ours needs something a little bigger.  

So as I searched through my patterns I came upon this one.  I had found it a few years ago at our local second hand store.  The pattern was originally from 1976 and where it is a simplicity brand there really wasn't much simple about the pattern in my mind (I am much more of a fly by the seat of my pants sewer than a pattern follower).  Darts, ruffles, pleats, button holes (oh I hate button holes) and more were very discouraging.  But hey, when I am in the mood to create and I have something at home that could work I really am not likely to go to the store to buy something new, even if it would be easier.
 Once the pattern was located Abigail was brought in for the fabric decision.  I had several pieces of flannel fabric that could do the job but Abigail chose this one.  Creamy white with little red stars and dark blue dots.  I wish you could feel it as well, so soft.  Perfect for a nightgown.  This was over two weeks ago.  In the time since then I have spent a time here and a time there pulling the pattern out of the package, reading it, putting it away, pulling it out again, sighing, cutting the pieces out, slowly marking each piece (how can one pattern that is so small have so many dots to mark?), and once again reading the pattern.  With two little helpers things take SO LONG.  Look at the pattern, Ethan don't take the pins, cut out a piece, No Abigail you can't have this fabric to make a dress for Anna because it is for your nightgown, pin a piece, Oh Ethan, please don't get into mama's threads.
And even though my evenings are short and precious last night was the night.  I put the kids to bed and decided yes, this could be done 17,000 times faster if I just do it now.  So a stitch here and a button hole there and I am proud to present my first nightgown for Abigail.  I love to sew and even if I don't sew a lot I do sew frequently.  Unfortunately a lot of this sewing is for gifts, house projects or other things not necessarily for my family.  The chance to sew for Abigail, something hopefully she will love to wear, is very fun for me.  I am forever grateful for my little space to create in the basement laundry room where things pile all around me but I can squeeze out some creativity.  And just like that I got the chance to create and at the same time mark something off my to do list.  Now I just hope the gown fits.

**Updated to add that it fits, she loves it, and it will be the clothing of choice tonight at bedtime.  Ahh success, it feels good.***

December 19, 2013

Day of Service

Abigail recently had the chance to help out the people of Alaska.  Our local food bank does a lot more than just serve the people of Fairbanks.  They have services, classes and such all week and on the weekends they pack boxes and ship them out to the villages to those who need food but don't have a road to come to town.
This was her first service project and we were not just sure how she would do since it was also a 3 1/2 hour commitment of work.  But she and her dada decided to give it a try and you know what, she did great.  She and Josh were incharge of putting in big boxes of cereal boxes into the boxes for the villages.
Lucky for Abigail, one of her friends from church, and older and much wiser 5 year old, was also helping out that day and was able to show Abigail the ropes.  As she grows I love to see all the different opportunities she will be able to discover.  Her day of service was one where all I think she learned was that it was fun to be with people she knows doing something fun at the food bank but for now that is all we need.

December 18, 2013

Joy Of The Season

Josh had to go to the post office for work yesterday.  He said it was so packed he had to wait forever to mail the files he needed.  When he told me I was reminded how thankful I was that all of our boxes were mailed before and are on their way to the houses we wish we could visit.
This week there is a simpleness and an excitement.  There is ohhing, ahhing, cookie baking, nativity playing, story reading and jingle bell singing going on.  As I play each day with the kids I can't help but think about how wonderful and magical this time of year is.  

My mother wrote and amazing blog post yesterday.  If you wonder just where my excitment might come from you will find the answer there.  Enjoy this post.   

December 17, 2013

The The Smells Of the Season Begin

 We are a family that is in the kitchen A Lot.  When I am there the kids are there and when they are both there craziness is bound to occur.   But with Christmas just around the corner we aren't just making dinners, breads, and daddy snacks.  Oh no, the fun treat portion of this holiday has kicked into high gear.  
Abigail is loving it.  She loves the cookie cutters, the rolling of dough (my small pastry rolling pin is officially hers she has declared since it is the baby sized one compared to my main rolling pin.) and measuring, counting and adding of ingredients that we put together.
 But really when it comes down to it, my girl has the biggest sweet tooth I know and what she really loves are the tastes that comes out of everything.  Try as I might she has licked the measuring spoons before I can catch her and she has found that even though cookies taste great residual baking powder does NOT.

 I love this time with her since this year she really is a helper and an active participant in the cooking.  
But even as Abigail pushes her way in next to me to see what is in the mixer, we are not alone.  Oh no. This year we have another quiet, watchful, learning, eager participant in the kitchen.  When we are there Ethan is there as well.  Even though he isn't vocal like Abigail he is still taking it all in.  The other day he was watching Abigail put flour in the mixer.  When I set the measuring cup down and went to get something else he quietly picks up the cup, climbs off his chair, walks to the flour bin to get a scoop himself.  He wanted to do what his big sister had done.
Just as I learn to balance two little people who love to "help" he is finding his way to make sure his sister doesn't get to have all the fun.  Oh this is a season full of smells, and tastes, for all.  I do believe after all this fun settles down my little man is going to need his own kitchen apron to show his place as official kitchen helper at our house.

December 16, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Yes, I do know that it is mid-December and I should be talking about all of our Christmas preparations, not Thanksgiving, but I can't miss the opportunity of sharing our family photo.
 When someone else gets behind the camera we never know what kind of picture we will get but 
it is always fun to see one where we are all together.  

This past weekend was a rough one for this little family.  So happy to be on this side of it and back into our Christmas preparations and festivities as planned!

December 13, 2013

For Me, This Is How It Happens

So my kids love the bathroom.  Not the going to the bathroom but the rooms themselves.  Not sure how it can all be so excited but oh it is.  There is water, and a lot of it when you consider the toilet, sink and tub, cabinets that open when the baby locks are forgotten and tons of little this and thats to unscrew like medicines, lotions, nail polish, daddy's deodorant and so much more.

The days I need to clean the bathrooms are days that have to be planned very well.  I set up the setting in the play area, which varies depending on which floor bathroom I need to clean.  The kids then become engaged in their play.  I play with them and then as they are having fun I slowly disengage, slip along the walls and slowly into the bathroom.  Try as I might I can never be quiet enough opening the cabinet and lifting out the cleaning supplies.  

I usually can get the mirrors washed, sometimes the counter but always, yes always, by the time I reach the toilet (aka right at their level) I have two visitors.  They want to touch the pretty blue gel, paint in the white foamy cleaner and yes of course, weald the toilet bowl wand.  Please also keep in mind I can clean our bathrooms top to bottom in about 5 minutes or less, these kids are fast my friends.

So just as there are chemicals right where I don't want my kids to be what do I do...I give them dry tub time (except for that one time that Abigail did turn on the tub when they were both standing their in their clothes but we don't have to talk about that time because "usually" this system works.)
Honestly, what would you do?

December 12, 2013

The Moon

Abigail loves the moon.

In central Alaska where it is dark so much of the time right now we get to see it a lot.  Every time she sees it we talk about it.  We also like to sing our moon song that my mom taught Abigail.

With that I have been working on night time potty training with Abigail.  She has officially been out of her night time panties (pull ups) for a month.  She does a great job but still needs to get up once during the night, usually between midnight and one, to use the bathroom.  This is a time I hate and love all at the same time.

It is never fun to pull myself out of bed but when I get to go into her room, pull her little warm body into my arms and carry her out to our glider in the sitting area I fall in love every night.  There at the glider I rock us back and forth and do my best to slowly wake her enough so she will need to use the potty.  I talk softly of what we had done that day, things I love about her, what we have planned for our next day and such (anything that comes into my sleepy head really).  Through all this I ask small and simple questions to see if she is waking up.  Oh the balance of waking her enough but not too much.  Some nights we rock for just a few minutes, last night it was more like 20.  

But as we rocked back and forth last night we watched the moon's reflection outside our big window.  From that reflection we talked about the moose, birds and bunnies that might be out wandering around at night.  We could see the trees waving back and forth in the crazy wind storm that we are having and we talked about how the wind had chilled us when we were outside yesterday but how wonderful our warm house is.  We also talked about how when we look at our beautiful moon those we love around the country are also looking at this same moon.  

So as it gets dark tonight and the big beautiful cresting moon rises above you know that we are looking at it and thinking of you.  It is you and these times with my dear girl that I will never forget.  But if for some reason time passes enough that my memory does start to fade I am thankful the blog keeps us together as well as refreshes my memories of the sweetness of having a warm bodied, strong hugger, lap cuddling little three year old in the house.  Someday soon she will start to wake herself when she needs to use the potty at night and it will be such a welcomed thing to this pregnant mama but yes, I just might miss our time together a little bit too just the way I miss you and think of you when I see the moon.

December 11, 2013

Help With The Creation

The idea behind putting a big number three on the wall for Abigail's party came from a picture my friend Heather took.  She put a big number on the wall for her daughter's party this fall and I thought it was a great idea.  
But then when I thought about it I really didn't know how she came up with paper that big.  
 So to get something big enough for Abigail's three I set the kids to "work" 
 Together they helped me turn plain old butcher paper into something a little more fun.
 As we got ready to paint I put on Abigail's painter's smock.  Then I realized I haven't made one for Ethan yet.  I decided bare skin was easier to clean than his shirt and with that he got into the fun.
Yes, by the end I do believe I had a little man who thought he was an indian about to go on a hunt and thus covered in war paint.  Thank goodness grammie was on hand to help with the creation and the clean up.  Making beautiful decorations do take a lot of "work" but these two were up for the job!

December 10, 2013

Crash Test Dummies

A year ago I published this picture on the blog.
A time when Ethan couldn't sit on his own, crawl or walk.  He was Abigail's baby doll and for a short few seconds Josh put him in her stroller and we all smiled.
Well, time has passed and kids do what they need to do to keep themselves happy on long cold days when we are stuck inside.  My mother talks about how when I was a baby my older brother and sister would go out on the porch of our home, sit on opposite ends of the house and ride little cars as fast as they could at each other.  It was their version of crash test dummies, my mother didn't get it but they both loved it.  As I watch my kids take turns pushing each other in the stroller back and forth across out house, running into the fridge, cabinets, little table and all I can't help to think back to my mother's story.  I really think when you have two little kids they will think up any version of crash test dummies that they can.  It is this things that helps to make childhood so much fun.

December 9, 2013


I mentioned last week that we were throwing a birthday party for Abigail's 3rd birthday.  This was a huge deal for us since we usually keep things pretty simple around here.  But her excitement over a birthday, an age change and being special for a day won out and we did it, a party with friends.
Abigail was excited about it and ever since Ethan's birthday in September, when she found out what a birthday really was, we have been talking about what she wanted.  Pinking pops, pink cake cups (cupcakes), fruit and gummies (gummy bears are what I chose for her but anything "squishy" would have probably worked).  She also special requested pink cookies that were birds, butterflies and moose (thank goodness for a good cookie cutter supply).
 We decorated in the basement but then kept the room off limits to her all day until 20 minutes before her friends were scheduled to arrive.
 The balloons, decorations, and preparations were all worth her reaction.  She was trilled.
 The party too was a huge success.  All of the kids played with toys and loved the game of pin the tongue on the frog.
 At Abigail's request just two families were invited and they were both more than happy to join us.  The kids had a great time and since Abigail loves arts and cracks we had a station set up where the kids made their own party hats.  What fun they had and what a great way to use up bits and pieces of paper, string and ribbon I always seem to hold onto.
And after the party friends left we relaxed, laughed, reflected and enjoyed the after glow of a successful weekend.  The next day would be Abigail's actual birthday with just her family but for now, we all we very happy and filled with the joy that time with good friends can bring.

Tree Disaster of 2017

We had quite the tree drama this year.  After years and years of real trees from the woods I was done with the needles.  DONE.  Last year A...