December 31, 2014

A Year In Review


Here it is, the end of yet another year.  I have to admit, I have sort of been dreading this blog post all week.  The haze of being in a house with another newborn has put necessity in place of goals for a lot of my days.  But I do love looking back on each year and so here I am, ready to see just how I did.

Kathleen’s Goals for 2014
(In no particular order)

Potty Train Ethan.  I know he will be different than Abigail but I have high hopes that this time next year we will only have one child in diapers.
Yes, this happened much earlier then anticipated but then the training went much longer than I imagined it would.  But here at the end of the year our boy is there.  He hasn't had an accident in weeks.  The fact that I had a break this year were for two months I didn't change diapers was a wonderful thing.

Boost our savings account and see if we can manage putting more into Josh's IRA.
Yes.  No need to share details but this was accomplished and feels good.

Work daily at having more patience and grace with the kids, Josh and myself.  I am so thankful to be given the example of God's grace at my failures every day.  May I learn to share that grace with my friends and family.
No.  I feel that I was doing better at this last year then I am this year.  Being tired and learning the balance of 5 is making this hard.  But it is something I work on daily.

Successfully complete this third pregnancy healthy.  Ethan's was so hard in different ways that we have been so concerned this time around.  So far so good, lets hope the next 5 months are the same.  
Yes.  I would say that this pregnancy was a success.  I had more swelling and prelabor cramping this time around but in the end it was successful in the fact that I was active and made it to full term.

Help Abigail break her thumb sucking habit.  
Yes and no.  She is done with her daytime thumb sucking but still uses it at night.  There are reminders when she is in the car or watching a movie but we are working on it.  It isn't an all day occurrence any more.

Successfully learn to manage a family of 5.
I would say yes.  Each day is a new balance but I feel like we are getting there successfully.  

Be serious about working on phonics with Abigail.  We have a lot of letter recognition down but I want to help her figure out sounds and putting them together.
Yes.  I was so worried last spring that when Naomi was born I wouldn't be able to put in the time with Abigail and I was right.  But I found ways, other then sitting at the table work, to accomplish this.  Reading road signs in the car is a good one and having her write words was good.  At the end of the year she has gotten most of her letters down, can write over half of them and is learning the sounds they make.

Loose a large portion, if not all, of my third pregnancy baby weight.  This will be my first early summer baby.  The thought of not going through post-pardum in the winter is something I am truly looking forward too.
Yes.  I have lost all of my Naomi weight, whoo hoo, but am still working on the extra from when I was pregnant with Ethan.  But excited this is a yes answer!

Help Ethan start to really talk.
Yes.  Josh and I laugh that our boy now talks non stop.  This was such a concern last year but it is amazing what a year can do for a little man.  He loves to talk and I especially love my Tuesday nights with him.  Those nights Abigail and Josh go to town and as soon as Abigail walks out the door he starts talking and doesn't stop until I put him to bed.  I also love that he doesn't parrot, Abigail always did.  Nope, what Ethan says are his thoughts alone.

Stay focused on the big picture.  Josh and I have big plans for 2014 that are yet to be blog worthy.  It is something that has been planned, talked about and dreamed about.  But like all plans, it can easily fall through if we don't stay focused.  My goal is that by the end of 2014 we will have succeeded. 
No, we did not accomplish this but we also aren't giving up.  

December 30, 2014

The Cleanup

We cleaned up Christmas last night.  The tree, decorations, stocks, tea towels, and each needle off the floor.  Things I want to remember from this year:

-Ethan singing Jingle bells, every day
-Josh calming Naomi down by holding her under the tree and letting her gaze up into the lights.
-Abigail really getting excited about Santa and asking a lot of questions
-Naomi's extreme cravings for wrapping paper - if it was around this girl wanted to eat it
-Ethan going up to everyone (cashiers, drs. friends and family) and screaming mawwey chisssmas
-Abigail wanting to use her own money to buy presents for people
-The fact that we kept giving cookies away and the kids kept eating them so we ended up making four batches of cut out cookies in one month (I am done for awhile) plus our other cookie disaster but that is a blog for another day.
-Abigail calling our daily advent calendar the "map" and listening to the kids tell the story of baby Jesus
-Abigail confusing baby Jesus with baby moses for some reason and Ethan's quick response to correct her
-The wonder of Christmas lights.  Our days are so dark that each trip to town in the car was an adventure as we looked for all the decorated houses, the kids never got tired of them.  If the house would be decorated with colored lights Abigail always called them Gingerbread houses. 
-And hearing Ethan rip away the wrapping paper on our advent books as fast as he could before I could catch him.  One day he got five while I was nursing Naomi and couldn't stop him.
It was certainly a wonderful time of year indeed.

December 29, 2014

A Lost Art

Some say that it is a lost art, that it is a waste of time, that social media makes it not necessary, or that it is just a bother.
But I say mailing and receiving Christmas cards is a wonderful thing.  Long after the rest of my Christmas decorations have been taken down, the tree has been put into the burn pile and the glitter swept off the floor my Christmas cards will remain up.  Each note, picture, newsletter and message are special to me.  Some might say that Christmas cards are a thing of the past but I look at my ribbon of love and say, not yet.

December 26, 2014

The Hype, The Energy, The End

Christmas days at the Klynstra's
 The christmas eve dinner.  Mama excited to serve garden veggies, kids excited to see fancy plates and daddy worried about keeping the church clothes clean for our run into town for the christmas eve service.
 Ham, glazed carrots, green beans, roasted sweet potatoes and yes, Ethan's favorite black olives (one for each finger).
 A note to Santa, cookies put on a plate, a cup of milk filled up and a carrot selected for the reindeer.
 Eager morning faces waiting to see what Santa has brought
 And the glorious discovers to be made.
 Our mid day brunch of pancakes, strawberries, sausage and cool whip.  We broke tradition this year and went with a cup of warm tea for each person instead of orange julius (saving the extra sugar for another day).  Ethan introduced Naomi to the brunch by helping her figure out how to eat her gluten free pancake, she was a big fan!
Oh Christmas.  What a wonderful day, what a wonderful month and how it is really ok with me that it has come to an end for yet another year.  So much energy, so many traditions, decorations and love.  I do feel I need a rest.

December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Josh, Kathleen, Abigail, Ethan and Naomi
To You

May it be a wonderful day in your life.

December 24, 2014

Traditions of Christmas

My treat loving kids have been begging all of December for a day to make gingerbread houses.  I have to admit, I don't love gingerbread houses.  The roof always caves in, the treats are so many that my kids just love to eat instead of decorate, and then the whole thing gets dry and crumbly as the weeks go on.  But the kids do love it and it has become a little bit of a tradition for our house.
So this year I decided to switch things up and do gingerbread boys/girls instead of houses and let me tell you, it was brilliant.  
The flat surface meant no collapsing walls, less candy was needed and the whole project was much smaller and more realistic to small people's attention spans.  
So in the end we have a family of gingerbread children.  Abigail (left), Ethan (middle) and Josh made one for Naomi (right).  The next day we let the kids pick off candy and dunk their gingerbread people in a cup of tea to eat.  What was left after that snack we made disappear.  So in the end the kids got their Christmas craft, their chance at treats, and mama got the chance to make this a realistic project.  And this my friends is how traditions are made, modified and perfected in order to carry them into next year.  
 Just like the tradition that we have where the kids get their first gift of Christmas the night of Daddy's birthday. 
And that first gift is new Christmas PJ's to wear the few nights leading up to the big event.  Traditions, those from Josh's family, those from mine and the ones we have created all on our own.  They are wonderful things indeed.

Merry Christmas Eve to you!




December 23, 2014

A Visit To The Ice In North Pole

One of the perks of living in Fairbanks is that we live just 15 miles north of North Pole, Alaska.  And at Christmas time, this is a fun place to be.  
 A few days ago we took the family to the ice park in North Pole.
 We were all bundled up but weren't sure exactly how Naomi would do being carried around.  So I borrowed a sit sled from a friend and Naomi had a wonderful time.  She loved getting to sit up and see all the fun going on around her.
 The kids got to visit the reindeer that are resting up for Wednesday's big night.
 And play in all the mazes and slides that ice had been built/carved into.
 The skill that it takes to carve ice like the ice we see here in Fairbanks brings international attention each winter.  Carvers from Norway, Sweden, Russian, China, Canada and the US are seen at this ice park as well as the big ice park that is hosted in Fairbanks each March.
 The kids enjoyed the carvings but it was really the igloos, christmas themed icons and places to climb that were the most fun.
Yes, Christmas in the North Pole (alaska) is fun indeed.

December 22, 2014

Reasons Today Is A Good Day

Today is this wonderful man's birthday.  How thankful I am that he is part of our family.  I find our lives are richer, fuller and more full of potential each and every year we grow older together.  I am so thankful for him, the life we have made and the children we are raising together.  We are a team each and everyday and I know I wouldn't rather be any other place. 
  Happy Birthday Josh, I am so thankful that you were born on the first day after winter solstice.  The first day of the year when things take a shift for the better.  Starting today we get a few more seconds of daylight back to our days.  Just a few seconds but since we have only been loosing daylight for the past six months, those seconds are so important to all of us who live up north where life is very, very dark.  

December/January are super dark months in Fairbanks but not so much July.  Thus, we have large firework celebrations on winter solstice and new years eve but never on the fourth of July.  
 Because of this we have never taken our kids to see the fireworks.  It is usually just too cold, they are too young and it is too late at night.  But Saturday we decided to switch things up and try it out.  We all loved it.
We are having a mild winter and it was only -8 F and so with a lot of blankets, snow gear and a peppermint steamer we were set for a new experience.  Poor Naomi, she is deep into the third child stage of life already.  The point where we would never have taken our first born out at 6 months to something like this but the third, she goes along for the ride.  Being the third born myself I know that it isn't all that bad of a place to be.  
Today we have a birthday to celebrate as the earth turns back towards the sun.  Yes, it is going to be a good day indeed.


December 19, 2014

A House To Go To

Yesterday this sister of mine bought a house.  I am just so excited I had to dedicate the blog to this event today.  I was lucky enough to get a peak of it when I visited last month but oh the changes they are going to be making.  I just can't wait until I can visit again!  Congratulations Hillary and Drew, we are all so very happy for you both.

December 18, 2014

Checking Our List

The kids are so excited for Christmas.  And no holiday season would be complete without a visit to see Santa himself.  
Just a week left to wait and Abigail was sure to tell Santa she was going to leave him cookies, warm milk and a carrot for his reindeer.  

December 16, 2014

Celebrating Those We Love

Abigail loves birthdays.  This is something I might have mentioned a time or two before.  Each day she makes a "cake" out of this or that toys and we all sing and enjoy.  Well, last week we decided that her most beloved doll, Anna, needed a real birthday.  And since she is a doll that was mine as a little girl that I passed on to Abigail after she was born, I guess it is safe to say that her birthday would correctly be right after Abigail's.
It became an all day affair with a pie being made in the morning.  Cards being created midday.  Presents being wrapped and everything set up for when daddy got home and we could really celebrate.
Anna's present was a Christmas outfit that matches Naomi's christmas outfit.  Lets just say I had a lot of fun last January with the after christmas sales and at the point in my pregnancy when I had just found out I was having another little girl.  Abigail was very excited and she loves taking Anna with us to show off her new clothes, especially when Naomi wears the same.  

And on the birthday note, Ethan is hopping on this bandwagon as well.  The other day when I lite the candle on the dinner table he broke out into song singing Happy Birthday.  I laughed a little and then had to explain to him why I really didn't want him to keep blowing out the candle before we even started our meal.  The kids think this is a festive house for sure.

December 15, 2014

The Art Of A Thank You

I was raised to write a thank you note.  As a result the kids and I always try and write thank you notes for things we are given.  Usually for the kids this means a painted hand print, a few stickers on a card, or some coloring.  But with turning 4 this month I thought Abigail could do a little more.  So the day after her birthday we set out to write Thank You and her name in the cards as a thank you to those who gave her gifts.  
Let me start by saying I think for a 4 year old she did a great job.  We started and stopped throughout the day and by the end of the day the letters N and Y weren't as intimidating as they were that morning.  But the patience, oh the patience it takes.  Lets just say I am thankful for a mother who stressed the importance of thank you notes or it would be something I would easily let slide.  But hey, we have started.  And you know what has come out of this, Abigail is more confident in her writing, she knows the letters in her name better and we have been able to thank those we love.  Kind of like childbirth, just forget the pain of the actual event and look at the results, right:-)

December 12, 2014

Carpet

A little bit ago I wrote a post about doing the extra things that need done.  One of those extra things was acknowledging that our carpets are dirty.  I vacuum twice a week and get on stains as soon as they happen but still.  It has been 6 years since they were put in and three kids later.  It was time for something a little more heavy duty than just my dyson on those wool fibers.
The two rooms upstairs were my main concern.  So one evening Josh and I emptied those rooms down to just the beds in preparations of a cleaner coming in the morning.  It is always fun for me to put everything we have together in one spot to see exactly what we do have.
And it was fun for the kids to have empty rooms to run around in and mama and daddy's bed so low to the ground.  First thing the next day we cleared these beds out, the steamer came in and the carpets were cleaned.  I am so very pleased.  Josh was understanding of my wanting to clean the floors but didn't understand all the frustration I had at seeing those stains everyday.  I am so very pleased they are gone.

December 11, 2014

Touch Of Christmas

We hold out on Christmas in our house until after Abigail's birthday.  But on Saturday we got right to the yearly transformation of making our house into a Christmasy one.
 First out was our advent basket.  I love this tradition.  I wrap all of our Christmas books and each day leading up to Christmas the kids each get to open one to read.  
 Also necessary was Naomi's hook.  I knitted her stocking last year when I was newly pregnant but her hook was never hung.  Now we have our five stockings hung in a row.
 This year we ran out of time for Josh to take the kids into the swamp for our yearly tree.  Instead Josh harvested one from beside the driveway and it is a beautiful one.
 After putting on the lights and the highest ornaments we lifted it up onto our armoire that is in the living room.  We have done this the past few years and it always works out great.  Josh suggested that this year we leave it a little closer to the ground but honestly it is a lot of work to keep an eye on it in addition to everything else we have going on.  Plus I love that by putting the tree up high it fills the entire room with light.
The next day the kids helped us put on all of our decorations and we were set.  The feelings of this holiday season are upon us.

December 10, 2014

Toys

Naomi has reached the stage where she loves her toys.  Squeaky, rattling, crinkly, soft or hard.  As long as it can be gripped, dropped and chewed on she loves it.
The world is before her and she wants to play with it all!

December 9, 2014

Party Entertainment

One thing Abigail has really wanted for her birthday has been a pinata.  She has talked about it for months now.
 I agreed that a pinata would be great but if she really wanted one she had to help me make one.  She requested a minnie mouse one and so with that I set out to make my first pinata since 5th grade.  
 I made it a project for just me and Abigail, working during nap time or when Josh was home, since it was super messy and I just wasn't ready to bring Ethan into that just yet.  Abigail helped me shred the paper and then paste on the layers (no pictures of that because well, it was SUPER messy)
 And a few days later we finally had enough layers.  We popped the balloons and then Abigail worked at painting it all black.
 That night Josh set to work.  A paint brush and a picture from the internet.  
 And he made this.  He is so amazing, I am so thankful to be married to such an artist!
 We loved Abigail's reaction to her minnie mouse pinata, it was just what she had wanted.
 And with that she and Ethan took to beating, and beating, and beating it
until it finally broke and she got what she REALLY had wanted, a floor covered in treats.  It really was a fun project that brought in a lot of new skills, helped lead up to her birthday and was rewarding at the end.  I do see pinata making in our future for sure!

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...