November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I am so very thankful, today and everyday for so very much.  May today be a day full of thankfulness for you as well.

November 26, 2014

Good Times In New Jersey

 We had a wonderful trip to NJ.
 Those airline miles might be long but it is so worth it to be together.
 To leave winter in Alaska and enjoy fall in NJ
 To get big hugs from an uncle
 And lots of love from an aunt
We all had the most wonderful time, I miss it already.

November 25, 2014

The Girls

For the past week and a half these two little girls and I have been out of town.  This fall it was decided that I really needed to have a little more time with my sister.  I just wanted to get to NJ so badly but knew I couldn't take all three kids.  But thanks to a very great mother-in-law the girls and I were able to travel to the east coast while Grammie came to Fairbanks for some one on one time with Ethan while Josh worked.  Amazing how just two kids instead of three makes things seem like more of a possibility.  
But we are home now after a great trip.  There is so much I can't wait to share with you.  These two sisters spending time with me and my sister, what a great thing it was.  Memories, memories!  Now it is time to reconnect with our men.  It is good to once again be a family of five.

November 24, 2014

All I Want

The fred meyer 8 page toy magazine came out not too long ago.  The kids and I have been having so much fun.  I have to admit I love watching the kids pour over those 8 pages of fun, bright, exciting and possible toys.  Right now I don't tell them they will get the toys or not get the toys.  I don't promise and they don't really expect.  What this is right now is excitement.  I love seeing how they pick things that maybe I might not have thought they would notice.  I like seeing them go for different things but stop to admire what the other person was interested in.  I like the conversations that come out of seeing all that is out there for kids to have.
Josh gets concerned that looking at this ad will cause a sense of unnecessary want.  I can understand that concern.  I can see how he can be anxious about the "I want, I want, I want".  There is a fear that gratitude for what we have will be lost.  But I also remember as a child pouring over the magazines that would come in the mail.  Taking a marker and circling almost everything and then slowly over days going back and back and back over those choices.  There was never a belief that I would have all of those items someday but the hope of getting something was so exciting.  I know Christmas is different in every house and I know you might feel very different about the Christmas ad then I do but for now it gives me a smile and it helps me get to know my kids, and what they love, just a little bit more.

November 21, 2014

Crafts

We love the Home Depot monthly craft morning for kids.
Not something we do each month but when we do, it is something we all enjoy.
The painting is always Abigail's favorite part, the hammering is Ethan's.  Perfect for the boy who would swing a hammer everyday if I let him.  Being creative all the while feeling destructive, the perfect combination.

November 20, 2014

Her Mailbox

Abigail recently found this little bag.  She loves bags, purses, boxes, backpacks, and baskets.  Things to put things into.  The stuff she puts in these items are always random but precious to her.  Well, this little duck bag she declared was a mailbox.  She colored a picture in her coloring book and put it in there for me.  Then she told me that I must write her a note in return.  Well, that initial exchange has brought on a few weeks of fun.
I often do my notes at night and she comes up with colorings, drawings or something small of her own to put in for me during the day.  This mailbox exchange is also a lesson to me in slowing down.  I never know when she will find my notes and as much as I draw pictures I also write words that she needs help with reading.  It seems she comes to me with her note at the most inconvenient times.  And when she puts something in for me she wants me to look, RIGHT AWAY.  Both of these instances is a lesson for both of us to be patient and put important things first.  I see the notes I write to her carried around, put up in her special place and used as bookmarks in her books.  It reminds me that the content of the notes don't have to be profound.  It is the act of getting those notes from me and then me having the time to talk to her about those little pieces of paper that really matters.  Getting mail is fun no matter how old you are, a way to feel loved.

November 19, 2014

Wake Up Call

It often seems that in the mornings my big kids wake up because Naomi cries out for me.  Although they are in their room and Naomi is in mine, the noise travels and everyone is awake at once.  This isn't a problem for Abigail as she gets up, goes potty and then comes in to see me.  It is a problem for Ethan who is still in a crib (please don't judge me, I am not ready for that switch to a toddler bed just yet.)
So when Abigail comes in, if I am nursing Naomi and just need another minute or two, I tell her to go in her room, turn on the light and give Ethan a book.  This usually works just fine and buys me those few extra minutes I need with the baby.
But it did make me laugh the other morning when I came in to get Ethan and instead of one little person in his crib I found two.  Instead of passing the book through the bars Abigail decided on personally delivering that morning's entertainment.  I loved the morning giggles I was getting from both of them that I took these quick pictures.
Mornings are a slow time for me and the kids.  The cuddles, the games, the books, the whole process of getting dressed (Ethan pick out your clothes, Ethan please put on your clothes, Ethan please find your clothes, etc...) is one I still love.  Once we all venture downstairs the day begins.  Phone calls come in, food needs prepared, chores must be done but this time before the sun rises is slow and relaxed.  The great intake of air before the steady stream of the day's force pushes us ahead. 

November 18, 2014

Visiting With Daddy

I posted two weeks ago about how the kids have been able to Skype with daddy when he is at work some days.  It is a wonderful way to see daddy when the work hours are long.  But nothing really is as good as a real hug from the man himself.  So I have taken to getting a guest pass for our military base just for the sole reason of getting to say a quick hi to daddy when he is on the job.
And just sometimes he is out running around on the side by side visiting groundwater collection well sites and the kids can get a quick ride for fun.
And daddy's van is always filled with fun things, that are anything but child proof, to explore.  Our visits are rarely ever more than 5 minutes but when we can make it happen, it is a favorite part of our day.

November 17, 2014

Learning To Give

One thing I really, really love to do each year is pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
This year the kids all got to help.  Naomi and I took one box to the store to see how things fit and to buy the contents.
But then at home it was a family affair to fill 12 boxes full.  It was hard for Abigail to give away those beautiful headbands, bracelets, and baby dolls.  But she gave each baby a rock and loving pat before we tucked them into the boxes.  It was a good lesson for each of the kids to think of those in need but oh how hard these lessons it can be sometimes.  Ethan enjoyed the process but Abigail is now old enough to know she would really like those toys but they just weren't for her.
After packing all the boxes I realized that I had grabbed the boxes but not the labels.  Thus I had Abigail sit down and draw me a B for the boy boxes and a G for the girl boxes so we could tell them apart.  It was a really fun moment for me as a mom to see those shaky letters being drawn out.  A glimpse of things ahead for sure.

This week is the national collection week for Samaritan's purse, Operation Christmas Child Boxes.  If you are able to pack one, or more, please do.  It is such a fun thing for some child in need but also so much fun for those of us that get to do the packing itself!

November 14, 2014

31 and 6

Since Ethan was about 5 months old, when Abigail was 26 months, these two kids have been about the same size when it comes to weight.  Always within a pound or two of each other we have watched them grow and grow together.
But it sure did make me laugh when we went in for flu shots the other day and the scale for both of them was exactly 31 lbs 6 oz.  21 months apart in age and 3 1/4" difference in their heigh but spot on for weight.  I love to watch them grow.

November 13, 2014

On Display

Abigail loves her special place, the guest room closet that I converted into a little room just for her.  She often has the place trashed but to her there is order.  She is constantly trying to hang this or that up on the wall.
A card, a picture, a note, a picture colored, a button, these things are all precious to her.  So in order to save the walls in there a little bit from loads and loads of tape, I recently hung a bulletin board for her.
This bulletin board cracks me up as there are different things hung daily.  One thing I love as a mother is to see what is special to each of my children.  I love watching Abigail in this space.  What animals get put on display, what items are put on her board, what games she creates out of her specially collected items.  It is all so wonderful, funny and a secret glance into who she is.

November 12, 2014

Day of Processing

The carrots were harvested from the garden almost two months ago.  Since then we have cleaned a few here or there every few days to enjoy fresh.  But the arctic entry where the garden carrots were stored is getting colder and colder each day.  The yearly chore of processing the carrots had to be done.
So this weekend pounds and pounds of carrots were scrubbed, diced and blanched.  We did save a large amount in the fridge since we all know fresh carrots are better than cooked, but thankful for them all we are!

November 11, 2014

Destruction

Recently I am finding myself seeking out ways to be destructive much more than creative.  I am not seeking this out for myself, oh no.  I would rather color than cut but you see, I have a little boy in my house that is big into destruction these days.  For the longest time I have been scolding, punishing, pulling out my hair, fighting over this issue.  Recently I realized that instead of just pushing against this need of Ethan's I needed to work with it.  Work with it in a way that lets Ethan get out his destruction in a manner that isn't destroying our house.
Water splashing, snowball throwing, paper cutting, fort destroying and more are becoming things I think a lot about.  I was very excited the other day when I found a great Ethan destructive activity with play dough.  He spent about 20 minutes balling, creating, and rolling out play dough.  Then that became much too boring.  Next came over a hour of cutting and smashing the play dough.  My job was simple to ball up the pieces and let him go at them again.  It is not in my nature to destroy but it is my desire to yell less and keep at least some hair in my head.  Organized destruction I must find.  Any ideas?

November 10, 2014

What To Do With Candy Corn

Last week I faced the challenge that most American families faced.  We had two pumpkin buckets full of candy and I had to figure out the best way to distribute it so that it was fun but without causing chaos.
So out came the Easter eggs, half were filled with candy corn, all were hidden and the fun began.  Yes, I do believe since Easter last year we have had over 20 egg hunts.  Once the snow is back on the ground the hunts are even more fun.  How can you not smile at a pink or purple egg laying amongst the white.  

November 7, 2014

Car Races

I am sure you can already tell from this past month's blog posts, but winter has arrived to Alaska.  Thus winter days of indoor play are already a month in and we are dreaming of next May.  But as much as I might look to the future the kids need things to have fun today.  They are really good about finding fun with their every day toys but still, this mama needs to switch things up for them as much as I can.
So coming up with the idea of boxes being made into cars for car races was a big hit last week.
Ethan has quickly learned the term "ready, set, go" and then he slowly scoots around the basement - thus earning his car name of putt putt.
Meanwhile, Abigail jumps out of the starting box and we therefore have dubbed her purple streak.  The kids love this.  We have had car races daily for the past seven days and it is a good outlet for a bunch of energy.  Of course in between the races the kids like to take on the game of bumper cars and so the boxes have been taped here and there.  Abigail likes to point out all of her "car accidents" to me when they play.
And even though her legs might not fit in a car yet, Naomi loves to be part of the races as well.  She never gets tired of watching her crazy siblings run and run and run in circles.  And after lap 20 she realized that the races just might be more fun to watch upside down.  Winter is long, that is for sure, but we are all learning that it is the perspective in which you view those days that really makes the winter go by successfully.

November 6, 2014

Freezer Burned

When we cleaned out the garden I left our broccoli plants.  The broccoli will continue to grow side shoots even during cold days.  But then before I could pull them it snowed.
Days and weeks have passed and even though it has been on the to do list, I just haven't had time to get out to the garden to pull those last few broccoli plants.  Josh was out playing with the kids the other day and went in to get them for me.  Much to his, and the kids, delight they also got to enjoy a little bit of a snack of frozen baby broccoli shoots.  It is these types of random surprises that make wonderful snacks for hungry little sledders.  

November 5, 2014

Truck Fun

There is a great resource in town that I just learned of this fall.  It is called Thread and it is little house filled with preschool materials all available to be checked out.  Similar to a library but with a lot more options then just books.
One of the bins I checked out recently was the Good Night, Good Night Construction Site bin.  It contained the book, a matching game, a thread/sewing game, other construction books and best of all a set of small trucks to play with.  The kids love it.
The other day, when we were waiting for butter to warm before making Josh cookies, we got into a game of truck play.  And as we were playing with the trucks I decided that those little trucks really needed some "rocks" to move around.
So a few of daddy's cookie's chocolate chips were put to use.  They made wonderful, moveable, dumpable, crane liftable and of course, edible rocks.  

Play with the kids is fun.  It is challenging to step out of the "I need to get this done" mood and put it into play.  I fail often at this but when we do succeed it is good all around.  On the play note, Abigail and I usually keep her board/card games set aside for when the younger kids nap.  Well, Ethan doesn't nap very much anymore.  So yesterday I decided we should try and introduce him to the world of candy land.  He has mastered his colors this past fall so it was the perfect game to start with.  Of course the hardest thing for a little two year old is learning to wait your turn.  So it really was a fast game as Abigail and I took our turns very quickly so we could get back around to Ethan's turn in a way to keep him going.  He really did well but did cry a little when the game ended.  Trying to figure out proper game behavior is certainly hard but I am excited for this stage of parenting, playing together in more and more areas of our lives.  

November 4, 2014

Hi Daddy

Josh has been working long hours for the past few weeks.  The leave before we wake and come home most days after the kids are in bed.  We know it is important and we know it won't last forever (feeling bad for families that do this all the time) but it is still hard.  The kids miss their dad, I miss their dad and their dad misses us.
So last week Josh downloaded Skype onto his phone and thus was able to call and talk to the kids during the day.  It was fun for them to see him and him to see them.  The call came from his work van where he was in the field doing groundwater sampling.  So over the computer the kids were given a chemistry lesson and shown piping, dirty and contaminated water, test tubes, water monitors and all.  They loved it and it made the day just a little bit better.  We are thankful for Josh's good job but will be especially thankful when he can come home and join us at the dinner table once again.

November 3, 2014

Meal Time Fun

Kids need to eat.  Kids want to eat.  Getting kids to eat the right foods all the time is not an easy task.  As a mama I am always working on finding ways to make eating good foods fun.
One such way came my way this past summer at a garage sale.  School lunch trays.  I was able to get my hands on four of them.  Oh that nostalgic moment when I picked them up.  Josh and the kids always love when I pull them out for the occasional lunch and dinner.  I find myself using them more and more because, why not.  
Another thing that has made meal times fun this past week has been the arrival of this lady at the table.  The first time the kids sit at the table has been monumental for each of them.  To finally be moved out of the exersaucer or bouncy seat up to the level of the table to see everyone is fun for all.  Yesterday our baby girl turned 5 months old.  5 months.  Amazing.  She loves being up high, seeing everyone, banging and chewing on her toys and overall being the center of all family entertainment.  How loved she is.