March 29, 2013

In Preparation

Easter is by far my favorite holiday.  There is the promise of spring, bright colors, bunnies and most importantly the reminder of our salvation through grace.  Oh grace, how I have been learning more and more to accept and give grace to those around me.  In a world full of works, Easter is the day that reminds us that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, we can do to be accepted by God and filled with hope and peace.  Jesus did it all for us, all we have to do is accept that grace and mercy He gave us on the cross, and proved to us on Easter, by conquering death.

Yes, we certainly have been getting ready for Easter in so many ways.
The library has such a fun selection of Easter books that we all have been wrapped up in rabbit families that decorate eggs, little boys who care for the kindergarden bunny over Easter break, the missing eggs that must be found for Easter and oh so much more colorful and creative fun in those pages.
 And while Aunt Hillary was here we introduced Abigail to the world of egg decorations.
 Coloring was the name of the game this year and Abigail had a strong opinion about what should be colored on each one.  
She absolutely loved dropping the eggs into the different colored water.  We found the hardest part of this whole project was the waiting until we could drop new eggs into those cups full of beautiful colors.  Since this day Abigail has eaten a pretty colored egg each day.  She now is learning, and loves, to peel the hard boiled eggs herself.  I am seeing that dying eggs may be in our future a lot this year.  Colored eggs just might not be for only Easter any more!!
And in addition to egg dying, Aunt Hillary brought costumes for us all to enjoy.  Yes, we are certainly excited about this weekend and for Easter.   

March 28, 2013

For the Next Generation

When my sister and I were little we were in tap class.  During those memorable classes we learned a few songs that we still sing today.  One of them is the Hula Hula Baby song.  Since we were in Waikiki, HI this past November I have been teaching this song to Abigail.  She was happy to perform for her aunt this week.  

Yes, she still needs improvement on a few of the steps but I would say for being two, this is a good start.  We have to give her something memorable to pass on to her daughter some day!

March 27, 2013

Adjustments

One thing we love about our house is that is can adapt, change and work with what we need when we need it.  Since Thanksgiving our carpet has been rolled up and stored away and the table has been the center of our main room.
 But now that we have a little boy who likes to just roll around on the floor, sit up, play with toys and need to be active...the carpet came out.  With that we adjusted the room to fit these changing needs.  As we were looking at where to put things I had two requirements.  One, the carpet needed to be out for Ethan and two, the area in front of the windows had to be free for my plant table that was soon going to be set up.
 Working around high chairs, couches, toys, tables and such Josh managed to fulfill those two requests wonderfully.  I love how a room that is the same day after day can suddenly become something else entirely. Brings such a fresh and spring type feel to the house.
And as for how the kiddos have adapted to the change...I would say it has been just what they needed too.  Even since we did this rearranging and I took these pictures, Ethan is sitting, reaching and playing more and more.  Dare I say we might have a crawler soon?

March 26, 2013

Museum Days At Home

We went to a children's museum while in Washington visiting Heather.  It was the most wonderful place and both Abigail and I loved it.  Since being home I have tried to create some "children's museum" type activities for us to enjoy.
 One has been the rice bucket.  It is as simple as that.  A bucket full of rice, spoons, cups, and other little containers to move the rice back and forth between. 
 And of course our sink is a wonderful water station.  Each time she plays in the sink we bring out different toys, cups and blocks to play with.  She loves that our sink faucet sprays and is a hose that can come down and move around.  
And the difference between the museum and home is that if a little tasting of the rice or drinking of the water occurs, which we know for sure it will, that is 100% ok.  Yes, it would be wonderful to have a museum near us for the kids to enjoy but this works, for now.

March 25, 2013

Planning Ahead

As the March days pass, we have been looking at the wood we used this winter and talking about what we might need in the years ahead.
 With that on our mind we started calling around to local wood guys.  You see the wood guys we have used in the past always deliver in June or July.  Josh really wanted wood delivered now, if possible, so that he could get a lot of it cut during these not super cold winter days.  If most of the wood gets cut now then the sunny days of summer don't have to all be spent in work.  At least that is the plan.
Thankfully we did find a wood guy who is delivering in March and we have since had two delivers of 5 cords each.  Josh comes home from work and sets out to cut each day.  There are probably only about two cords of wood less to cut into rounds.  With all of the March snow we have been having recently those piles of wood are big white mounds but soon that snow will melt.  Then we will start the splitting and stacking process.  Maybe, just maybe, we will have the wood supple for next year, and the next, ready and set to start drying before the long days of summer are upon us.  Yes, that is a good plan indeed.

March 22, 2013

The Stowaway

As we settled back in at home the process of unpacking began.  Oh, what a process it was.  Little kids, I find, love when a duffle bag is opened and things start to pour out.  It is just an invitation to them to go explore and drag items to various parts of the house that really aren't the parts of the house they are supposed to go to at all.  Yes, these days unpacking is a bit of a process but it does help me settle back into the groove of being home indeed.
And as we unpacked I saw Abigail in the corner one day playing.  When I looked at what she was entertained with I noticed it was a little stone angel that used to sit on the dresser in my mother's guest room.  Yes, it seemed indeed we had a stowaway.  To Abigail it was a little bit of her grandparents' house that she could bring home.  After a trip there are always memories to process as we unpack.  Grandma and I are pleased that Abigail has her little stowaway to help her transition home while keeping the memories of Texas fresh.

March 21, 2013

The Time That Warms The Bones

Our time in Texas didn't last as long as we wished it could have, but isn't that that way it is with most good vacations.
 As I reflect back on all the pictures I took over those 10 days I love the sun and all the thing we did in it.
 The wind that came with those sunny days didn't really let us feel too much of the heat we had expected too but that didn't stop us from enjoying that sunshine regardless.
 I love that at Abigail's age it was the times spent at home playing with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, her cousin's scooter, and so many other "new" things that were the happiest times.  I know that in the years to come there will be more of a need to entertain her and Ethan with outings but for now it is just the play in the sun that makes her happy.  
 And after seeing so many pictures of Abigail you might just wonder where Ethan was.  Oh, he was there.  This new baby skin of his was very well guarded during our times down south.  Because even though the wind made the days cool the sun can still hurt baby skin.  So as Abigail played he was kept close, but usually in the shade.
As we packed our bags to fly home we soaked up the last of the Texas sun as we got ready to return to the winter days at home.  But as wonderful as the sunshine was, it was the time spent with those that love us so much that really keeps us warm as the days go by.  Can't wait until we are together again.

March 20, 2013

The Slightly Aggressive Texans

At home we love to feed our Fairbanks ducks throughout the year.  But in the cold, cold parts of winter the ducks really don't like to come out of the water where they are just above freezing (by the out take pipe from the city's power plant), to the freezing snow for snacks.
 So you can imagine the joy we all had when Grandma suggested we take an afternoon to go to her park and feed the Texan ducks.  Since Abigail's only experience with this activity is at home where our Alaskan ducks are fed a lot, are smaller, and very gentle, we were in for a surprise.  These Texas ducks were bigger, a little more aggressive and accompanied by a big goose who pretty much wanted to take Abigail's hand off.
 Humm, the popcorn we brought for them was gone fast and we quickly ran in the opposite direction.  That was interesting.
 But the day wasn't lost since Great-Grammie was there to make us laugh
And Grandma helped Abigail explore different parts of the park where there was a little less danger of loosing body parts.  We sure are happy not all areas of Texas are the same, we will stick with the less aggressive parts for sure!  

March 19, 2013

Life's Unexpected Joys

I love my sister very much but there is a slight problem.  She lives in New Jersey and I live in Alaska.  She has a very busy job and I have two little kids.  Our lives are very different but also connected as two sisters can be as far apart as we are.  
The last time we were together was the fall of 2011.  We often talk of when we can see each other again and the answer is sometime in the far future.  Well, that was the answer until Saturday morning.  Sometimes life changes and when they change a little bit good things can happen.  For us this change in my sister's life means that today she is on a plane flying north for a week long visit with us.  We booked this ticket less than four days ago.  Oh how fun to be spontaneous.  We can barely hold our excitement as we wait for her plane to arrive.  Lets have the fun begin.

March 18, 2013

Family

When we visit my parents in Texas we get to see so much more family than just my parents.  It seems as the years have gone by more and more of my family has migrated to this southern state.  We love this because now when we do get to visit it means... 
Lots of play time with cousins.
It is the chance to meet family members for the first time who already love you.
It means being surrounded by a lot of people who can teach you all sorts of new things.
It is realizing that just about anything you imagine can be made out of constructs when your uncle helps you.
It means big kid puzzles aren't too hard when you have help.
And most of all it is learning that a day in the sunshine with ice tea, snacks and family really ends up being the best day one can have.

March 15, 2013

The Place To Get Lost

One store I love to go to, and really wish I had near me, is Ikea.  Lucky for me I get to go once a year since my parents have one near them.  Now this is a place where you wander around and around and around.  Oh how I love it, and oh how my dad hates it and nothing we could say or do could get him to go with us.  Lucky for me my mother also loves the maze this store is and so we went, twice.
 This year we found out that even though the whole store opens at 10am, you can get in the store and start wandering at 9:30am.  This is great with young kids.  Almost no one is in the store when the doors open and so we let our little girl run.  It was so fun watching her run from "room" to "room", bed to bed and when we finally got to the kids section the real fun began.
 Thus you can kind of understand why shortly after leaving the kids area Abigail found this basket and my "I love to be in all things small" girl climbed right in.
Happy her small charge was suddenly contained and happy, my mother picked up the basket, put it on her cart and we carried on.  No, I am not much of a shopper that is for sure but yes, I really do love this particular store.  It is ok that I can't really buy much since I am limited to luggage going home, just visiting the store is fun all by itself.

March 14, 2013

When Not At Home

I mentioned on Tuesday's post that when I am with family, mine or Josh's, I try and let some things go. This is very hard but I work to remember it is only for a few days.  As her Popeye said the whole time we were there, since I am her grandpa I can spoil her a little as he brought a box of 24 fudgesicles home 1/2 way through our 10 day visit.
That being said, I had to document for Abigail her after nap snack at Grandma's house.  A fudgesicle and a brownie.  If she ever complains at home that I don't let her have "fun" food I can show her this picture and remind her that even if I didn't give it to her, I didn't stop her from eating it either.  Going home from vacation means time changes but it also means sugar withdrawal it seems.  

March 13, 2013

When There Is No Snow

Abigail loves to climb, slide, swing and be outside.  These are all hard things to accomplish during the cold of winter at home.
So when we were in Washington
And in Texas
With Ethan
Friends and Cousins
No matter if it was cool, windy, a little rainy, or bright and sunny
We got outside and went to parks and playgrounds.  Now that we are back home and all of our playgrounds are still covered with snow we are so thankful for each and every one of those adventures.  I just hope those happy memories can hold us just a little while longer as we wait for spring to arrive.  

March 12, 2013

FIrst Taste

When we arrived in Texas Ethan was 5 1/2 months old.  Sticking to tradition, pediatric advice and such, Ethan had not yet started solid foods.
 But the first morning at my parents' house when I put Ethan in a high chair at the table with us and then gave him a toy to chew my parents protested.  "Look at him, you give him a toy when he wants food.  Feed the hungry boy."
When I visit my parents I try to just let things roll, it is only for a few days...right.  With reminding myself of this decision I let my dad give Ethan a piece of melon to chew on.  He loved it.
 Later that day mother started Ethan on to his first "real" solids.  Let me tell you, once this boy started, he didn't look back.
Since those first bites of avocado and applesauce our boy has gone on to eat sweet potato, banana, carrots, peaches, squash soup and more.  After already having a little girl who would NOT eat, it is an amazing thing to watch a baby open their mouth for the spoon.  What a fun start to all the tastes that are ahead.

March 11, 2013

The Reason

I have had a lot of people ask my why it is I would travel, by myself with an infant lap child and a toddler, from Alaska to Texas this year.
 Well, the answer really is simple.  I would travel anywhere I need to to enjoy the sun, the love, 
 the smiles, the family, the laughter, the chance for my kids to meet their extended family,
the scenery, the fun, and the time to slip away from life.  Yes, it is definitely worth the money, time and miles that are needed to get there.  Worth it indeed.

March 8, 2013

Coconut Oatmeal Berry Muffins

Yesterday I made a new batch of the gluten free muffins that we love.  It reminded me that several people had asked for the recipe.  Here it is.  I hope if you choose to make these you love them like we do.

Coconut Oatmeal Berry Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup orange juice
4 eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups almond meal (with using my own I always grind it in the magic bullet first)
1 cup oat flour (grind oatmeal in the magic bullet/food processor)
3 tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup frozen blueberries

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Whisk eggs until smooth.  Add milk, oj and maple syrup and stir.  
-Add oat flour, almond meal, coconut flour and stir until smooth
-Let stand a few minutes (this is needed for the coconut flour)
-Right before baking add the baking soda and stir. 
-Lastly, fold in the blueberries, still frozen.
-Put in greased muffin tins
-Bake for 30 minutes

Fun Together

Time spent with another mother, one who is such a good friend as well, is an amazing thing.
Together there is no apologies for bad behavior, there is understanding about nap time, snack time, and the need to adapt to the needs of little people.
And there is so much joy in watching the children we love connect, bond and fall in love with each other like their mama's love each other.  Yes it was a fun time indeed.

March 7, 2013

The Best Stop Along The Way

In planning our trip to Texas to visit my family, the kids and I took a few extra days for a long layover in Seattle.  For there, like last year, was the chance to visit my best friend Heather and her two babes.
 It was a wonderful few days full of our two active toddlers and two infants.  How excited I was to meet Heather's little Grace Ann, who is just six weeks younger than Ethan.  Together we were a sight for sure.  I rented a mini van which we filled with four car seats and when we walked it was with two double strollers.  
But everywhere we went our big girls had a playmate and our little people were cuddled.
 We enjoyed playgrounds, Heather's beach, road trips, the children's museum in Tacoma, play at home and a wild, after children's bedtime, trip to a store.  Two days went by really fast for sure.  
Since they days were short I don't feel like we got to "settle" in while in Washington but we fit in just great.  Thank you Heather, Caroline and Grace Ann for such fun memories.  Being friends thousands of miles apart sure helps us treasure each moment we do have together!

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