January 31, 2013

Just for Her

The plan is for the kids and me to take a trip together at the end of February.  Both kids are now seasoned travelers and have always done well on flights but you never know.  Even though we aren't leaving for weeks I have been preparing a little bit here and there for awhile already.  One such preparation has been to make Abigail a backpack of her very own to carry her own snacks and entertainment.
With this thought in mind I called a good friend of mine to see if she had a pattern for me that I might use.
Well, the next day I received an email from my friend with a picture of the finished backpack.  She was so sweet to make it for Abigail herself.
She said that when she thought of all the distractions I had it would take me a long time to make this small project when she could do it in just a few hours.  
We are so thankful for her, her skills and creativity.  The backpack is wonderful.  Whenever we leave leave the house Abigail now has it on.  In it I keep some snacks, books, a doll or toy and on the occasion when she is alone with Josh it holds an extra pair of pants and panties, just in case.  It works perfectly and with the chance for Abigail to fall in love with it over the next few weeks it is bound to help us in our travels together.

January 30, 2013

Times Such As These

There have been some hard days recently at this house.  Days that just sort of drag on from one time out to time out, one nursing to the next nursing.  I love that I have written often about "loving" the stage Abigail is at because right now I am not loving all of the stage we are in.  She is a wonderful little girl, please don't get me wrong, but the days are just a little harder.  As fate would have it, Ethan has also reached, and seems to have plateaued, at a sage that is trying as well.
Yesterday Abigail and I spent a half hour coloring in a big box that is her new fort.  The day before Ethan and I spent the hour and half of Abigail's nap cuddling and laughing together.  As I tuck these kids in at night I pull those thoughts and memories close.  Is it the stages that they are at that makes it so hard or is it the stage I am at?  I often wonder that.  I wonder all day where the blame is to these hard days and then I realize that they are what they are.  These are the days I need to have a little more patience and a little more understanding.  I need to love these kids harder even when the days seem long.  Trust me when I tell you that I know the years will be short.  I tell myself this everyday.  I remind myself that I will want these days back, someday that is.  Just wish it was a little bit easier.

January 29, 2013

A Different Meaning for Each of Us

The other day I took an item out of the diaper bag and it smelled very strongly of bananas.  I knew there was a small container of banana chips in the bag for snacks so I didn't think about it much more.  The next day I was rummaging for something else and once again got that super strong, almost sickening, smell of banana once again.  Right then and there I decided I needed to do a purging and cleansing of the bag to figure this problem out.
Well the result was the discovery of this now black banana.  I then remembered putting a banana in the bag days ago for Abigail, oops.  

As I looked at the banana on the counter I groaned at the thought of needing to clean all that was in the bag to get rid of the smell and at my foolishness of letting the banana be forgotten.
My groan and grimace made Ethan smile and start to laugh.  Glad he could see this as funny.
And the declaration of a bad banana brought a cheer of joy from Abigail since it meant only one thing, we were going to cook banana bread.

As I was cleaning up the dishes from our cooking I couldn't help at laugh at it all.  One little rotten banana meant such very different things to each one of us.  Oh how true this is for so many things in life!  I need to start seeing more things with the laugh and cheer of my children's perspective on life instead of the groan of the adult's vision of work to be done.

January 28, 2013

For Me, Daddy and Baby Too

If you know Josh, you know he loves monkeys.  A long time ago I found some really fun flannel fabric in simple monkey fabric that I thought he would love.
Well last summer, months before Ethan was born, I worked on a little Christmas project for my growing family.  Out of the cut of fabric in my stash I was able to make matching monkey pants for my crew.  Josh's are simple adult pajama pants, the kids are each a pair of quick change pants.  The kids pants are reversible so I made Ethan's brown with white polka dots and Abigail's with red with white polka dots.  All three of theses pairs of pants have seen a lot of wear since Christmas morning but it wasn't until just the other day that all three of them wore their pants together.  The sight of monkeys around the house made me very pleased indeed.

January 25, 2013

That Nutty Flavor

At our house Josh and Abigail drink cow milk but I can not.  Since I commonly buy almond milk I decided one day last week to look into exactly what I needed to make it myself.
 Well, I found that all I needed was a cup of almonds and water.  I really do love when I figure out that something from the store, that I thought could only be obtained from the store, is really easy to just make at home.
 Abigail too thought thought fresh almond milk from her mama's kitchen was wonderful.  Maybe she will be switching back, since she herself couldn't have cow's milk for the first 19 months of her short life. After discussing the almond milk process, Josh and I decided to run some numbers to see what the cost of almond milk at home was vs the 1/2 gallon purchased at the store.   Much to our dismay we found that the cost of the raw almonds we needed were more expensive than buying the almond milk at the store when it is on sale, which happens frequently it seems.  How very frustrating is that idea.
But with the great taste of almond milk on our lips we decided to carry on in hopes that raw almonds themselves go on sale soon.  Because when it comes to the thought of drinking something that was made from scratch, and knowing just what is in what we are eating, no price can really compare.

January 24, 2013

The Joy of Rolls

Our smily little man fills our days with such joy.  There is just something about his big fat cheeks that makes everyone who meets him smile and when they do he can't help but join along.
 Our baby boy also loves to be hugged and cuddled.  As most parents we love this, to a point.  You see this little guy is big.  Still a baby but a well stocked one at that.  At the end of the day when my back and my arms are very tired I wonder just how much I am carrying around each day.  
Yesterday he and I went in for an appointment and we got to see where he is in this growth.  Well, it seems that in the past two weeks our  Ethan has had a growth spurt.  He is now 18 lbs 7 oz (1 lb 4 oz in just those two weeks) and is now at 26 1/4 inches (3/4 of an inch longer).  Oh how I love this guy and all of his wonderful jolly rolls.  His healthy growth is something we all love to laugh and smile about for sure.


January 23, 2013

Never Gets Old

When Abigail was super small she started climbing into things.
At 7 months it was her toy basket, with a little help from daddy
At 12 months it was her ever shrinking toy basket with no help from anyone
At 15 months she was still at it and found the task of climbing in the toy bin much more enjoyable at Grandma's house where the toy box was bigger.
And this fascination with emptying a box and then climbing in herself and not been something she has outgrown at all.  The other day I looked around the corner of the kitchen and saw her like this.  All of her books had been removed from the book box and she had happily replaced them.  Oh how I laugh at this girl and the things she does.

January 22, 2013

Time in the Quiet

Josh is gone today.  He left yesterday morning with a group of friends to go on an overnight snowmanchine trip to a cabin up north.  The kids and I have had fun, visited with friends, played together and just over all just got things done.  You might think that with Josh away for the evening that I would use that time after the kids were in bed to work on blog posts.  I myself had thought I would do that but alas, that is not what I did.  Instead after I tucked each sleeping child in I stoked the fire, hung some laundry and then as I walked towards the computer I passed my book.  I did not make it any further.  Instead of the more length and elaborate blog posts that could of been written I read and how wonderful it was.  How I have missed having a time to sit in a quiet house and absorb words from a good book.  So even though the plan for writing multiple posts didn't pan out I do feel calm, refreshed and full of thankfulness that my book was in place just before the computer.  I hope in the days to come this feeling of peace will remain with me until I can once again find a little bit of time to enjoy the quiet and a good book.
video
And just for fun I have attached this little video.  It was taken a few days ago and helps to remind me of the joys of being an energetic toddler.

January 21, 2013

Original Taste

I am not someone who enjoys drinking but there is one reason I will venture into our local liquor store.
That is to purchase vodka to make homemade vanilla extract.  I tried it at first on the desire to see if it would really be any different than store bought and now I am sold.  This vanilla made here in my kitchen makes each item cooked with it taste richer, more flavorful and overall much better.  I never knew how much 1 tsp of vanilla in a baked item could change the taste so much.  Good-bye store bought vanilla, never again will I buy it.  So inspired by my vanilla I now have peeled and sliced almonds soaking in vodka to make my own almond extract.  

If you are so inclined to make your own this is all that is required:
Purchase a bottle of vodka
Place in it about  6 whole vanilla beans (bigger bottles require more and smaller less, use your best judgement)
Put the bottle of soaking beans in the dark for 3 months
Take the bottle out and give it a good shake and you now have vanilla extract
When your vanilla starts running low add more vodka to your bottle and give the bottle another shake.

I promise you will love this new addition to your cooking.



January 18, 2013

Together

Abigail and Ethan really do love each other.  My mother commented the other day that she was surprised that even after four months Abigail would be so excited about "her" baby, but she is.  In the mornings, when he gets up from a nap and when they play during the day she loves to be near him.
Now that Ethan is starting to play with toys Abigail find it her big sister duty to be there to help him figure each new thing out. 
 Abigail also loves the "new" toys that have come out of the closet for Ethan.  Whenever he is enjoying his time on his activity mat Abigail is sure to join him.  She loves to hug him, kiss him and show him how his sun sings.  She likes to show him how to dance and is disappointed when we remind her that Ethan can't yet jump with her yet.  
And even when Abigail decides to play with her own toys she is always near her little brother.  I love to watch them together.  I know they will not always get along but how thankful I am that these two have each other.  


January 17, 2013

The Warm Winter Day

Usually the weather in Fairbanks, Alaska in January is cold, a warm day is around -20.  But if you read that line again you will see that I said "usually".  You see this past week has been a weird one for us.  Sunday and Monday found our temperatures jumping up into the 30's, that is 30 degrees ABOVE zero.  Honestly, this makes for horrible winter weather for driving.
But it does make wonderful winter weather for making snowmen.  Another one of Fairbanks' traits is that because it is so cold it is very dry.  Usually, we can sweep our snow easily with a broom it is so dry.  Monday's heat wave brought a wetter snow to our house and one that Josh and Abigail were very excited about.
All bundled up these two headed out as soon as Josh got home from work.  After watching dad work a little Abigail started to figure out that snowballs were not just for eating but were also for building.  Josh did tell me that she tried to pick her ball up several times and drop it, which just caused it to break, but soon she figured out how to roll it.
And armed with a carrot and scarf from inside these two people of mine built a snowman.
This outdoor adventure made Abigail so happy.  She has since asked to make another every day since but the weather has once again changed and the snow will no longer pack.  Maybe in March or April when things warm up again we will have another day of making a snowman.

January 16, 2013

The Shape of Love

For Christmas my mother gave me a heart shaped mold for cooking with.  
The other morning Abigail helped me make pancakes and I decided to try it out.  Following a friend's advice, I made sure the mold was well coated with cooking spray and the pancake came out just great.
Abigail was super excited to have "cake" for breakfast and that I was serving it to her in the shape of a heart.  That joy lead to her enjoying her "cake" directly off the griddle.  What a fun way to start our day.


January 15, 2013

At 4 Months

Our little man Ethan turned four months old last week.  He has grown into such a fun baby these days.  If you asked our family to describe him in just a few words this is what you might get:
Josh - 20 lb jelly bean
Kathleen - butter ball of laughter
Abigail - happy baby, hug hug touch, ohhh baby piggies (aka toes)
At his four month appointment Ethan weighted in at 17 lb 3 oz and ever growing.  He has started reaching for and enjoying his toys.  Ethan has so much fun he laughs at all he sees.  He has even been known to laugh in his sleep at night and wake me up.  Oh, he is a normal baby and isn't always jolly but the amount of smiles and chuckles he puts out more than makes up for the fussy times. 
video


January 14, 2013

A Day On The North Shore

Ok, this is my last post on our trip to Hawaii.  I have more pictures, many more for sure, but seeing how we have been home over a month I really need to wrap this up I know.
 But I couldn't stop before I showed your pictures from our time on the North Shore. 
 Vacationing on the southern shore where there were less waves and rocks was perfect for little kids, and thus our family.  But it sure was fun to take a day and head north to see what the other side of the island was like.  It was beautiful and the waves were certainly more intense.  Abigail was knocked over and drenched by a big wave after this picture was taken, don't worry, she came up laughing.
 While Josh and Abigail played in the waves, Ethan and I hung out on the sand and enjoyed the breeze.  One thing about Hawaii was that it was hot for these Alaskans and whenever we could sit in the shade and enjoy a cool wind it was wonderful.  (and as I write this blog post we can't believe how skinny Ethan looks in this picture compared to how he looks today.  I will have to put a picture up tomorrow for you to see the difference, our boy has certainly chunked up a lot in the past month!)
 And as I sat on the beach I couldn't help but enjoy the different geology that the north shore provided compared to the southern shore.  Abigail also loved the difference in the sand but she didn't really want to sit too still for my geology lesson on the reasons why the grains were different, maybe someday.
As I look back on our Hawaii vacation this day is clouded a little by the fact that Ethan and I ended up on the ER that night when our little man got very sick.  I am so happy we have these pictures that help remind me of the joy we experienced before the storm.  It would be two more days before we loaded back onto our plane and flew north to our home that was sitting 100 degrees colder than these islands.  We certainly had unexpected things happen to us when we were there, in the sun, enjoying our vacation but through it all we made the best of it all.  How wonderful it felt to enjoy a vacation as just us, our little family of four.  We don't know where or when we we find ourselves again stepping away from our lives together but one this is for sure, we can't wait!

January 10, 2013

Unexpected

As sometimes happens in life, days don't go as planned.  Due to needing to take care of some things going on in my little family's life there is no big blog post today.  My mother did do a funny post yesterday.  Go Here and check it out for a good laugh.  Hopefully all resolves itself today and there will be a new post up tomorrow.

January 9, 2013

Around The House

Josh has been home sick from work for the past two days.  As much as we want to have daddy better it is a nice thing to have him home when the only agenda is for him to relax.
There has been a lot of play, resting, good food and overall just being a family.  I smiled last night as I realized that our little family found ourselves together and playing in every main room of our house at some point of the day.  How I love that we can be home for days and our house fits us well.  Today Josh headed back to work and the kids and I are settling back into our routine as well.  This is as it should be but how nice it was to have things switched up for those unexpected days.

January 8, 2013

Our New Night Life


While in Hawaii we found ourselves having a little routine each day.  The kids would get up around 6/6:30, we would head to the beach by 7:30, be back at the hotel for snack around 9, then naps, then lunch, than an afternoon activity with the day rounding out back at the hotel for dinner around 6 and bedtime at 7.  Not every day was like this but most were and it just worked well.  We were so very thankful for a hotel room with a full kitchen and the chance to cook all of our meals there.  Small children and restaurants are anything but relaxing and fun to me.
One night we found ourselves back "home" earlier than usual.  Thus the kids were fed, bathed and ready for bed around 6:30.  Since we had done all this before they started an overtired melt down we decided to take them out the see the "night life" of Waikiki.  Dressed in their PJ's we went for our evening stroll along the beach, looked at all the Christmas lights on the buildings, the lights from the boats out at sea, enjoyed seeing people dressed up for dinner and wondered at what their evenings on vacation looked like.  We were back to the hotel room by 7:30 with two tired and mellow kids and two parents who felt refreshed from some evening air and a lot of laughter.  Gotta love the fact that we defined our "night life" as being out past 7, tis the season of our life!  

January 7, 2013

My Revolution

I saw Les Mis with the broadway cast while in college.  Ever since I heard that it was coming to the big screen I have really been excited to see it.  I know and love this show, the characters, words to the songs and story.  Well, this weekend I was able to go on a special trip, by myself, to the movies.  

After I put Ethan to bed on Saturday night I headed into town for a late night showing.  As I walked past couples on dates, groups of college students, and families herding their kids (what where they doing there that late?) I felt like a queen in disguise.  No one there knew that I was out on for an evening on my own and how big a deal this was.  No one knew that I had a toddler and infant at home being watched over by my husband. No one knew just what a treat this was for me, but I did!

I loved the movie.  The singing, acting, story, the way it was adapted from stage to the big screen was great.  It did take me a little bit to get used to the difference in the stage music to the way they sang the songs in the movie but once I accepted it for what it was, it was wonderful.

Late, late that night as I was coming home I kept running through the movie in my mind.  The thing that struck me the most, and very unexpectedly, was the young men fighting to start a revolution in France.  Through all my years of watching and listening to this show I have never really focused on them, understood them or appreciated them like I did after this weekend.  The images of a country so full of inequality, starvation,  class ranks and injustice with the knowledge of what that country is today was striking to me.  It made me think of the people all through history, and even today, fighting so that there can be equality and justice in their homelands.

As these characters fought, lost their families, their lives and started to see defeat they held strong to their dream.  It made me wonder if I could do that.  Could I fight to the death for such a cause as my country?  What am I made of if I say I don't think I am?  I look at my life and realize I would fight to the death for my children and I would fight for my faith but is there more in my life that I would fight as hard for?  What would my revolution be?

January 4, 2013

The Beauty of It All


As I have traveled around different parts of the world I am amazed at all of the different kinds of beauty that I see.
Visiting Hawaii's tropical world was no different.  No matter where we went when we were there we were there we were amazed by the trees.  Just amazing trees.  Huge with big canopies to provide shade on hot days.  
Some of the trees had such huge branches that new roots would grow down from the end of the branches and provide new roots to help support the weight.
In addition to the trees there was the rest of that tropical world to admire.
The local beauty as well as the imported.  We saw so many peacocks which were a Japanese influence that the last queen of Hawaii had loved.  We learned that in India peacocks are raised for food but in Hawaii they are sacred and can not be harmed.  
Abigail was very disappointed at this no harm rule as she loved to chase them.
We love where we live in Alaska but when it is cold, dark and deep into winter, the fresh colors of the tropics is so refreshing.
We didn't know the names of most of what we were admiring but that was really ok.  The music was sweet to hear regardless of our knowledge.
The beauty that surrounded us, filled us and sent us back home full of memories of those warm, colorful days full of songs.



January 3, 2013

A Day To Remember

While we were in Hawaii we made it a point to get to Pearl Harbor.
 Although it wasn't the best place for small children, we didn't want to miss the opportunity to see a historic part of our country's history.  Josh was able to do some exploring on his own through a museum and a submarine that weren't children friendly. 
 Then we went as a family out to the Arizona memorial
 No strollers were allowed so Josh carried Abigail in the ergo and I carried Ethan in the moby.
What a thought, to stand over the ship that holds hundreds of soldiers from so many years ago.  We went to pearl harbor on the first of december, just days before the anniversary of their attach and the start of the US into World War II.  As I walked around with the kids I saw the preparations for the big memorial service that would be held later that week.  What a good reminder that I need to daily be thankful for all that this country provides me with.  Even with all that is going wrong we are free and what an amazing thing that is indeed!

January 2, 2013

The Clean Up

In early December when it is time to decorate for Christmas there is always so much excitement.  For a few weeks we enjoy bright lights, colorful decorations and sparkly flourish that fills the house.
 But after Christmas the question comes, when do we "take down" Christmas.  In our case the tree decided this for us.
 You see Alaskan trees that are cut from the wild are just black spruce and frozen solid when cut.  Thus  they soak up NO water during their time inside and are indeed dead trees from day one.  So even though we had the tree up high where the kids couldn't reach it we still heard the needles falling all day, every day.  The day after Christmas it was time for it to come down.
Due to the extensive needle clean up that was involved, Josh and I decided to just take turns cleaning the tree and keeping the kiddos out of the clean up process.  As sad as it is to pack up Christmas we are ready for the fresh start that the new year brings, the fresh feeling that anything is possible.