December 31, 2015

A Year In Review 2015

I am a goal setter, just something I have always done and will continue to do each year.  Not so much resolutions but things that I want to work each day to accept, change, improve, achieve and aim for throughout the year.  Looking back on those goals and evaluation how I did is part of goal setting.  Here is how 2015 went.


Kathleen’s Goals for 2015
(In no particular order)

Try outdoor/overnight camping with the big kids this summer.  We did this and we did this well with all three kids.  So excited we have started camping as a family of five.

After a sad example of a garden last year (due to baby and weather), I hope to have another large and successful garden this year.  Yes, minus the brussels sprouts, it was a great garden year.  Here it is January and we are still eating garden produce out of the pantry and freezer.

Put Abigail into swim lessons.  No.  Swim lessons in Fairbanks are different then most places I have been too.  They are expensive, every day for two weeks and the classes fill up very, very quickly.  So after a lot of thought Josh and I have considered at this age the best thing we can do for swimming is exposure.  We have had a family swim pass off and on all year, have gone to hotel pools, swam when visiting grandparents and do our best to get in the pool as often as we can based on the other things we are doing.  As a result the kids are doing great, jumping in, submerge their heads, float on their backs and are learning to swim from me.  For our family, right now, this works and is benefitting all five of us.

Enjoy Naomi being a baby.  Don't rush this.  And on this topic, enjoy each stage Abigail and Ethan are at too.  Days of the future will come too fast.  No, simply because to tell you the truth I can't believe I have a 5 year old, 3 year old and almost 19 month old.  Really, how did this happen.  It feels that they rush to grow up no matter what I do.  I will say that three is a much, much, much better stage for Ethan then two.  I am enjoying that very much.

Hike more as a family.  We did well two years ago but with most things the baby interrupted that a bit last year.  We want to be intentional about this.  This is a yes and a no.  We didn't really head out and achieve mountains at all.  Actually, due to the wildfires up north we never even went to the white mountains all summer where I love to go.  But we did get out for family hikes on the trails near town.  The large cross country ski complex isn't far from our house and in the beginning of the summer we grabbed a map.  We were intentional about going on all of the trails and we did a whole lot of them.  There are just a few more to accomplish this summer but it was fun, long enough to challenge the kids but short enough to make it a good opportunity, close to home and something we could do in an afternoon or evening so that we were more likely to go.  Good choice for this year.

Raise chickens once again.  Yes, our biggest flock as well.  Really the best opportunity to raise our own meat and then to have such a great product to enjoy all year.  Nothing bought at a store compares.  We are planning to raising an even bigger flock next year.  In addition we also raised bees this year. Another great experience we are looking forward to doing again.

Josh's car is on its last leg.  We need to set aside the funds to purchase a new/used one before it dies.  In addition, our goal is to have a small pull behind RV of some sort by the summer of 2016.  This year I want to work towards saving the money for these. Yes and No.  Yes, Josh's car did die but no it wasn't after we saved the funds.  Last January during some super cold weather the car died for many days and just didn't want to start.  When it did things were spraying, leak and rumbling in addition to the other issues we had been having.  We limped it into the car dealership where it did die but luckily just after we got the minimum trade in.  It was a wonderful car that served us well but Josh is very pleased that it was upgraded to his truck.  Our new goal was to pay the truck off in a year.  Well, we still have 30 days to go and I don't know if we will make it but we are VERY, VERY close.  If we don't get it by the end of Jan. we will be done with it by the end of Feb. for sure.  So thankful for this.  Step after we pay off the truck, save up so we don't ever need a car loan again!

Go on a family trip this summer, probably one where we stay in state but still, a family trip.  No.  We did go camping but never a real family trip where we drive, see new things and are gone more then two days.  Josh worked to much and just couldn't get the time off.  I took the kids and my sister to Homer but Josh had to stay home and work.  We did all go to Soldotna for Thanksgiving and visited Josh's family.  Not what I had in mind last January but it was something.

Bike as a family this summer.  Not sure what all this will entail but I would like to make it happen.  Yes.  We did figure this out and were out together by the end of April.  It was amazing.  But then Josh started working crazy hours and my jeep went into the shop for work and they kept it for TWO months.  That put a damper on our out and about that we had planned for the summer.  But we did figure this out, we did enjoy it and we do look forward to more biking time this summer.

Figure out what we are going to do for schooling for Abigail and start a homeschool preschool program.  NO.  As I have worked with Abigail, talked to other homeschooling moms, observed other homeschooling preschool moms, I have realized that this year is my bonus year.  Abigail is doing great.  We write a letter to someone once a week.  We talk about geology, biology, history, cooking, ballet, numbers, ethics, vocabulary and so much more.  But this is our gift year.  The year where she is getting it but doesn't have to be on anyone's schedule but our own.  There is time to learn because it is fun but if we want to stop and play we can do that too.  We are learning about chores, money, responsibilities, focus while working on a project and loving it.  Life is happening and that is what we are learning from, not a curriculum for preschool at all. 

Keep working towards the big goal of 2014 that we weren't successful at yet.  Time will tell but we must keep it in mind.  At this point I have no idea where this goal is going.  It is always there, always something we talk about, plan for, anticipate but really don't have a grasp of yet.  So nope we did not accomplish it but someday maybe we will.

December 30, 2015

Beauty Shop

Having a little sister is so much fun, just like having a live baby doll.  Except they do get up and move on their own.  Humm, such a hard dilemma.  

December 29, 2015

Gifts Made In 2015

This Christmas was a mix of sewing, knitting and learning new crafts to create our gifts.  
Baskets were on the top of the list.  They were made and filled and personalized with a variety of homemade jams, garden pesto, blueberry syrup, muffins, goods from Texas, knit items and such for family, friends, teachers, librarians and more.
A "this and that" blanket was knit for my sister.  Made from the ends of my rolls of yarn.  It turned out so well and she loves it.  Yeah.
I made my first quilted project from a pattern by making this table runner for a friend.  Love how it turned out and the confidence it gave me that I can make something that maybe lines up.
Since it is projects like this tree skirt that I usually make.  I have an idea and I go with it without any pattern to go off of except for something in my mind.  This was also made for my sister and delivered early for Christmas so they would have it for decorating their tree this year.
I had made the one wreath at home but like the project enough that I made another for a friend.  When I made mine I used a base of just wire.  For my friend I used a straw base and it turned out much fuller.  

This christmas I also made a cover for Josh's drill press and three aprons for a friend's kids.  I don't have pictures of any of those.  Add to it the jam and pesto that was made this summer/fall in preparation of the season and I feel pretty good about this year.  I love making gifts for people, the hardest part is coming up with the ideas of what to make.  Any suggestions for next year???  It is never too early to start.

December 28, 2015

What Fun Times

What a fun time we had this Christmas.
 SO MUCH FOOD.  Josh wasn't feeling great so where I cooked our normal amount we ended every meal with lots of leftovers, we should have had 20 people to dinner Christmas Eve.
 After getting new jammies we set things out for Santa
 And Naomi just couldn't get over why someone would leave perfectly good yumm yumms out on the table.
 That night I couldn't sleep, at all.  I was so excited, nervous someone would be unhappy, over tired and excited once again.  In the end I was up long before the kids the next morning.
 We started a new tradition of having homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast Christmas morning.  Josh found a recipe for strawberry pie filling rolls.  I made the pie filling out of frozen strawberries and that turned out better then I thought it would.  The rolls were a bit messy in the making but turned out great.
 I didn't get any pics of the present opening on Christmas (too much fun was being had) but I did document the few gifs opened Christmas eve.
 The kids did such a great job being excited for each other and admiring what they got as well as what their siblings received.
And there was joy all around all day long.  What a wonderful Christmas we all did have.  Abigail and I have had discussions all weekend about why we have to wait a whole year for Christmas to come again.  In our talks we try and mention all of the other things that we are exited about (holidays, birthdays, ballet, summer and such) that we would miss if we only focused on Christmas.  But boy it was a magical time of year for sure.

December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!!

December 24, 2015

What I want To Remember

Years go by, memories blur, things are forgotten and new events fill our minds.  But for this Christmas season these are some things I don't want to forget.  Little bits of every day life that I hope to always cherish.  
 Abigail, my girl who loves to get gifts but also give gifts.  All year long she is trying to give her things away to people.  Find-me-someone-who-will-accept-something-from-me is is pretty much her inner desire.  So bring on Christmas where gifts are given and received and well, she is in heaven.  But oh, to wait and wait and wait until Christmas.  The waiting has been so hard.  To help fill the days she has colored pictures for all family members, neighbors, mailman, the UPS man, friends, and the librarians at the library.  Now the days are drawing near, we are done handing out gifts but she still has a need.  So little bits of paper have gone missing, as well as tape and bows.  Her dolls are now getting presents wrapped up from items in her special place.  The "kids" tree is starting to fill up with presents for each and every doll she has.  She is finding she must name those random tiny unnamed babies so that they can then be given a gift.  Oh how I love this.  I love the excitement it brings, the anticipation.  Abigail seriously has not sat still to eat, read a book, watch a movie, cook a meal or dessert all week and as for preschool work - oh no, way too slow for this girl.  I am constantly thinking she has to go to the bathroom because she is bouncing all over the place.  Such a wonderful time of the year and a happy, happiest season of all.
 And where the presents are so fun to look at they are untouchable until Christmas.   But the boxes and packing they come in have been so much fun for us as we wait.  What better then boxes upon boxes to have as cars, snowmachines, airplanes, rockets, baby doll beds and more.  And can we just talk about how happy the kids are that Amazon doesn't send plastic air anymore for packing but instead the big loose packing paper.  It makes the best "posters" there are.  Smooth it out and we have a new place to color.  Add to it the empty wrapping paper tubes that Ethan has made into swords, wands, untwisted to create a "tigger tail" so he could bounce and so much more.  For my boy that likes to destroy things it is so fun to have a box, tube or paper, play with it, destroy it and later that day be presented with another by the delivery man at the door.  Perfect.  Ethan likes to ask each day, "Is Christmas ever coming?"  This month of advent has been long indeed.
Ever since our UPS driver started his new route in July and stopped us on his first day to ask directions, he has been Ethan's favorite person.  We don't often get packages but we do see him drive his route almost daily when we would be out for our walk all summer and fall.  He even stopped once, let Ethan climb in his truck and gave Ethan a hug.  Ethan is completely smitten.  Now, thanks to generous family member sending us gifts the package man has been coming to OUR house and well, the kids are besides themselves with joy.  If you know an UPS driver you should let them know how kids, well at least mine, really think that when you come to deliver a present to our house that pretty much means you are our best friend.  Unfortunately due to air travel to get boxes this far north and then the busy season that it is, a lot of our boxes come late at night when the kids are already in bed.  But to open the door in the morning and see a box, well that is pretty magical too.  So much so that Ethan has taken to playing "package man."  He loads his toy train up with block "packages" and heads out for his deliveries.  We are all blessed to then receive our packages in such a timely manner.  What a wonderful gift to receive.

Oh I know that there are other things I am missing and I will look back and forget but today here are these.  A glimpse of Christmas with a 5, 3 and 18 month old.  Abigail busy wrapping, Ethan delivering and Naomi standing in front of the fridge or cookie jar yelling - yumm, yumm.  What a year to remember, and Santa comes tonight!  The wait is finally over.  

December 23, 2015

How High Are My Expectations?

Christmas time.  A time for new and old traditions, sweets, story books, giving, receiving, dancing, jingle bells, family, memories, and so much more.
I feel like several years into this "parenting through the holidays" gig we are starting to figure out a better pace for things.  The past few years have been a little overwhelming.  Last year was too much in the end.
This year I find we are doing a lot but the kids area also grasping the concept that it is in preparation.  Such a hard thing to figure out.  To cook, give, celebrate, tell the story, learn the parts and all for 25 days in a row can be a pretty big deal for little people.  So much build up.
But Josh and I are lowering our expectations on ourselves and on the kids and we are finding the simple pleasures keep us going strong.  Little joys of visiting the gingerbread house competition as a family is something that can be talked about for days.  Simple and sweet.  Only a few more days to go until Christmas 2015 and honestly we are stocked full of groceries, activities, and games to play.  Besides Josh going to work and an outing to the Christmas Eve Candle light service I have no plans to go anywhere with the kids until Sunday.  Good-bye stores and all the hustle and bustle.  I am ready for the silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright and just maybe a hallmark Christmas classic.  

December 22, 2015

Happy Birthday

Today we celebrate the man of our house.  Christmas can get super exciting and bring a lot of energy to our home and it makes celebrating a birthday this week even more fun.
There really isn't a man more loved.  
Happy birthday Josh.  What a wonderful year we have had.  Can't wait to see what this next one will hold!

December 21, 2015

Winter Solstice 2015

Today is it, the day at the end of our six months of daylight decline.  Today when the sun rises, if it manages to peek out from behind cold weather clouds, we probably won't even see it.  At our house we live behind a small hill and therefore unless we go to town at its beak we don't get to have the sun in our eyes at all.  A lot of people celebrate solstice.  We are a town that cannot have fireworks on the fourth of July since then it never gets dark, and it is too much of a fire danger.  But tonight the skies will be alive with splashes of color.  I personally celebrate tomorrow more then today.  One, is a very special birthday and two, it is the start of our turn around.  Tomorrow we will gain precious seconds to our daylight and then there is no turning back for six more months.  Yes, this happens every year and every year each and every person in the north rejoices.   Being an Alaskan has taught me to certainly love, adore, long for, and enjoy each moment of the sun.  
I don't really ever put up pictures from the internet but this one was too good to pass up today.  Happy winter solstice to us all.  

December 18, 2015

To Create This Season

This year one of my new Christmas goals was to make wreathes for our house and some friends.
A friend and I spent one evening creating together and made this, my first of the season.  I love it.  It is made out of wire, coffee filters and a little bit of Christmas fabric.  I was quick to make a second to send on to another friend's house to bring a little cheer.
And then Ethan and I took some time to make this candy cane wreath for our neighbor to help cheer his home.  Ethan loved seeing the candy canes go from normal canes to hearts to then a wreath at the end.  So fun to create with him on this day.  




December 17, 2015

Please

Every morning the first thing Naomi says/signs to me is please, please trees.
She then points to one tree and then the other.
The lights to gaze at, ornaments to play with, the light that fills the room.
These are certainly some of her favorite things.

December 16, 2015

Now That I Am 5

One of the kids' favorite part of this season is all of the special baking that we get to do.  Fudge, cookies, mints, egg nog and more.
While making the fudge the other day Abigail declared, "Now that I am 5 I can help stir things on the stove."  And yes indeed she can.
Cooking with the kids as they get older and older is so much more fun.  Abigail is usually at my side because she just loves anything, Ethan just loves the process of cooking itself.  It makes all of the kids so proud to eat and serve their dad, friends and neighbors things that they have created.
Naomi, my resident home wrecker, just loves the eating part of any baking experience.  She joins us in the kitchen for any and all yumm, yumms she can find.  Last week was the fudge and egg nog, this week the mints and cookies of many shapes and sizes.  The smells and tastes of Christmas are here.

December 15, 2015

Santa 2015

We surprised the kids the other day with their "Christmas time" for that day being a visit to see Santa.
We had talked about writing and mailing Santa a letter but I asked Abigail if she wanted to write one that morning and hand deliver it.  She was super excited about this.  When I asked her what she wanted from Santa (she could ask for anything) this is what she wrote:  Santa, Can you bring me hair pretties and new gloves.  Love, Abigail
Ethan and Abigail were so very excited to see Santa.  The three of them read Abigail's note together.  Then Santa turned to Ethan and asked what he wanted.  He got really quiet and said, "A Toy."  Santa laughed and said, "I can manage that."
Then we gave Santa Naomi for that one perfect picture and instead we managed to get a classic picture instead.  Naomi wasn't too excited about telling Santa anything at all.
But the other two, well they were mighty excited to love on this special man for the few minutes we had.  Ethan loves Santa so much.

December 14, 2015

Winter Fun

Someone new to Fairbanks asked me the other day just how we make it through the winter months.  The cold is an easy one, layers upon layers upon layers.  And get out for a few minutes every day because you need it regardless of how cold.
The dark on the other hand.  That is a much harder question to answer.  For this family we solve our problem with lights of all kinds.  I talked about that in a post last week but thought this pic of the kids was worth bringing the topic up once again.  Sometimes the lack of light can be fun to play in.  Never underestimate the joy a glow stick can give to a child on a winter day!

December 11, 2015

A Toast To The Christmas Spirit

I learned last year that with kids that it is best to approach Christmas as a little each day.  Something to look forward to, put up, decorate, send, and such.  They love every minute, and I do too but it is best spread out.  This week was decoration week.
Our Alaskan black spruce, aka Charlie Brown Tree, was found by Abigail and she is so very pleased.  It is growing on me, and it is nice to have a slim little tree, but at first it was hard not to have anything that looks like a traditional tree.  Oh well.  The new LED lights are very blue but the kids like to keep the tree lit the entire day, every day, and it makes me happy to know the electric bill won't be outrageous.  This year I also pulled out my small three foot pre lit tree and let the kids have all of the non breakable ornaments for that.  They loved having "their" tree and both look good.  
In starting a new tradition at our house I made homemade eggnog on the day we put up the tree.  One of those grocery items I have never made before but enjoyed creating.
The kids, and Josh, loved it and it was fun to toast the beginning of the Christmas season around our tree together.  



December 10, 2015

Always Room For One More

Naomi loves to empty my kitchen drawers when I am cooking.  A friend asked just how she gets to the drawers and the answer is a chair is part of my girl's body.  She pushes a little chair all over the house in order to get to what she wishes.  
Well the other day the two chairs were taken up by her siblings busy at work.  Exactly where she wanted to be.  Next think I knew the entire little table was pushed over to the counter to give her access to the fun.  this girl is not one to be left out of anything!

December 9, 2015

Work Goes On

So you know those long, long summer days I am always talking about in June and July, well we are on the flip side of that now.  As much summer sunshine we have then is how much cold, dark and deep dark we have now.  It is really sinking in right now.  The past few days I have given the kids breakfast at 9:30 am.  Oh they still wake up at 6:30 but we are just around and it feels so "middle of the night" ish with the pitch dark.  When they get fussy around 9 I start to realize I need to follow the clock not the sun.  He is a distant relative who just peeks in on us through cold clouds for a very small bit each day, at lunch - not breakfast.
But through the dark I am thankful for the lights.  Christmas lights,  decorative lights,  happy lights that bring us fake sun, every room lite up lights and of course, work lights.  And with that a husband who is willing to go out and get the work done.  In the dark and in the cold, because even if the sun is gone for now, the work certainly isn't.

December 8, 2015

Lets Talk Cak

Lets talk about Abigail's birthday cake.  I am not a big elaborate baker but it is fun to make something new and youtube does have such good ideas.
Since her party idea was my little pony rainbows I had the idea to do a rainbow cake.  Well, to tell you the truth my main idea was to make a fun fetti sprinkles sheet cake with a rainbow drawn on the top in colored frosting.  Josh didn't like that idea too much.
Oh my artist who loves to see the world in a lot of color convinced me that I could make the youtube cake.  I agreed but only if I could do it with what I had on hand (no special pans or cake decorating tools).  He was so excited that when I started to make the frosting he stepped in and colored it all for me.
I made four 8" layers purple, green, yellow and red.  The frosting was colored the same and so was able to keep the rainbow going, didn't break up the cake layers with layers of white.  The frosting on Friday night filled in between each layer and the created the crumb layer around the outside but then I ran out.
So while Josh took the kids ice skating on Abigail's birthday I quickly made another batch of frosting with this helper.  The frosting was quickly renamed yumm yumm.
And using a plastic bag with a hold cut in the corner I created this.  I was so pleased with how it turned out.
And even cut into the rainbow remained.
It was certainly a challenge for me.  At the time I swore I wouldn't make something like this ever again.  But in hind sight it was really fun.  I had a lot of flash back memories of decorating cakes with my aunt Lilly as a child.  I was always so amazed at how she could made flowers out of frosting.  Maybe I need to try that someday.
But getting back to rainbows - the cake really turned out well and the best part, it tasted great and it was enjoyed by all!