May 29, 2015

Friday - Homestead Update

As I mentioned yesterday, I keep having to remind myself it is still May.  The weather has been lovely, sunny and warm and with that things are growing.  Even as the past few days are cooling down the plants have had a good jump start.  The entire garden is in the main area and we are already getting blossoms on the zucchini plants, mini tomatoes in the greenhouse and the carrots and beet seeds are sprouting out of the soil.  For some reason I have lost several of my beautiful pumpkin plants.  I have watered, fertilized and worried over them and sadly pulled the dead ones out one at time.  No internet help has worked and I am at a loss as to why the pumpkins have been doomed.  And as much as the plants are growing so are the weeds.  How thankful I am to have the garden in but now the work of maintaining it has begun.  
On the rest of this silly little homestead - the chickens moved out of their brooding box and into the pen.  The kids LOVE this since they can go down and visit the chickens without me whenever they want.  Before they had to wait for us to open up the box but now the chickens are at the fence and gladly eat the flowers they are brought as gifts.  Although they are still small they are growing, getting a lot of adult feathers we feel good at referring to them as the fat ladies once again.  We had a situation the other day where we were concerned some might have gotten out of the fence.  We tried to count them, these ladies move a lot, and it was so trying.  So we set up a divider and Josh lifted each one over and we counted as we went.  We did it over and over to check because we started with 32, lost 3 and could only count 30.  Not math we have ever seen before but I know we started with 32 so at this point we will just wait until butchering day to get a clear count.

And the bees, well you can imagine how happy they are to have the extra pollen starting to show up.  All in all, things are feeling good.

May 28, 2015

This And That - Summer Days

My car has been in the shop the past two weeks.  Thus the kids and I have been on an unexpected home vacation day after day. 
 But if there was ever a time of year to be stuck at home, this would be it.  We are loving that the weather makes our home bigger than four walls.  More time is spent outside of the house than in every day.
 On the rare occasion I am inside, I decided to take on the project of the kids' toys.  The toy box that Josh built is great but everything small falls to the bottom.  When the kids want to play with something it seems the toys get strewn all over the house.  The idea of small containers was considered and while everything is much more visible, they are then accessible to the kids.  Trying to promote use of the toys the kids have and try and chase away those "I am bored" feelings and encourage the play with one bin at a time rule.  (and the toy box is now home to just the big toys that used to be on the shelf such as the baby stroller, drum and keyboard.)
 While not sure this system would work I was encouraged that within a 1/2 hour I found the kids happy playing with different bins of toys.
And so far, a week later, the bin system has made our days less cluttered and more full.  I also found that sometimes I rearrange the bins on the shelf to cause the kids to stop and notice something different.  Taking a note from my local grocery story that is doing renovations.  Where not knowing where something is on my grocery list is a bad thing - making the kids look around their toy shelf is a good thing.  Brings things to the "new" category without actually getting anything new.  (quite the opposite as the fisher price people that the kids love the play with were my brother's toy many many years ago) 
And after days of just mama and the kids you can believe that time with daddy home from work is more special then ever.  We are loving our summer days and as I keep reminding myself, it is still just May.  Our days in the land of the midnight sun are here.

May 27, 2015

The Week Before

This is it folks.  The week before Naomi's first birthday and the memories are flooding back.  I have attached a picture from Memorial Day 2014.  I looked through all of them about 20 times to find the best one because really being 40 weeks pregnant and hiking is admirable but not the most flattering thing I could show off.
But as much as I look at those pictures and groan at how uncomfortable I was I am a little nostalgic too.  The last time I held my girl safe inside.  In just a few days we would meet her and how our lives would be changed.  The week before a first birthday, kind of a big deal.  

May 26, 2015


These kids (as do most) LOVE trains.  
 So when the Alaska Railroad had their open house you better believe we were in line for a ride.
 The kids are used to the little steam engine that goes around pioneer park here in town but the chance to get on the big train was a sure treat.
 Neither of them remember their train ride from two years ago but ever since this day they have talked about this 20 minute ride.
That and Ethan can't stop singing "I've been working on the railroad."  Fun memories for all (and the full attitude of both are seen in these pictures.  That starts young for sure.)

May 25, 2015

My Baby

You might have noticed in the pictures from last week's post in Denali, Naomi has fallen in love with baby dolls.  So much so that this girl is rarely without one.
Watching my little baby carry around her baby does something to me.  How I love this little lady.  And even as she steps into the role of being a little mama she has gotten one thing for certain - try taking away one of these babies and she becomes a mama bear.  No one touches her baby dolls.

May 22, 2015

Friday Homestead Update

The big news of this week...
 The garden is in.  Well, except for the green beans, peas and beet starts that are still sprouting in the greenhouse but those should go in today.  
No more chickens have been lost and the big news on that part is that the heat light has been turned off.  Josh should get the net covering put up today and that means the chickens will be soon moving out of the brooding box and into the yard.  These ladies are getting big and summer is in full swing.

May 21, 2015

What It Will Be Like

We have big dreams to taking the kids out on their first outside, overnight, camping trips this summer.  
But before the big outdoors are experienced we ran a test run in the basement.  This summer is sure to be a fun one for sure.  This test run reminded us about how important it is to tire the kids out before the fun of the tent experience begins.  

May 20, 2015

Talk To Me

11 1/2 months old and growing so much.  The most fun I have had over the past few days is watching this little baby respond to the words spoken to her.  The act of learning that talking has means.  Abigail talks about her baby and Naomi looks at her baby doll.  Ask Naomi to pick up a shirt off the floor and she walks and picks it up.  Tell our lady no and her pouting lip pops out right away.
Even though this girl can't talk yet she does understand.  How fast they grow!

May 19, 2015

Your Backyard

Two years ago I felt like we were finally getting out and about with the kids.  Ethan was 10 months and Abigail 2 1/2 the last time we were in Denali National Park.  Then we found out we were expecting our surprise gift.  Needless to say with Naomi arriving last summer visiting Denali wasn't part of our to do list.
But 100 miles isn't too far to travel to visit this beauty and the world around it.  Josh was reminded at the end of last week that the park didn't open until today.  Thus the road was open for access to anyone up to mile 30.
All summer you have to ride a tour bus into the park and the chance to take our own truck and have freedom to stop and go was worth it.
And even better.  After parking at 30 mile you can bike even further into the park.  You might remember one of my 2015 goals was to figure out how to bike as a family.  This is a blog post all of its own but since I can't take a picture and hold my bike I haven't taken any pictures of my solo biking with this crew.  We bought Abigail a ride behind bike (look close and you will see the blocks we put on the pedals for our little girl) and she LOVES it.  Ethan and Naomi ride in the buggy.  When Josh is with me he pulls the buggy and I pull Abigail.  When Josh works I put the buggy on Abigail's bike and pull all three.  It has been WONDERFUL!!  Naomi doesn't love her helmet and screams a lot but she will get used to it.  When we are biking Abigail is know to scream, BEST DAY EVER.  
But since our day in Denali was stop and go as needed - we were able to stop for snacks and letting this little girl stretch her legs.  
There is nothing like showing my kids that Denali is part of their Alaskan backyard.  What a great place to be.
Oh, long drives in a truck, wind, pushing ourselves with hikes, tumbles and biking makes for long days.  Being out and about seeing our world isn't always the easiest place to be.
But is it worth it?
Without a doubt yes.  To us it is days like this that makes us smile.
How wonderful to talk to the kids of caribou, bears and ground squirrels by showing them tracks on the ground.  To talk of geology, shifting tectonic plates and earthquakes while pointing to the tallest Mountain on our side of the world.  To explain cultures, travel, and the importance of people seeing their dreams in Alaska while the kids see visitors speaking a half a dozen languages in the park with them.
I love the every day days at home.  I really do but these days - these chances to be out in it all- sure do make me feel alive.

May 18, 2015

Raising Alaskan Kids

Yesterday we took the kids on an adventure.
More details to come tomorrow.

May 15, 2015

Friday Homestead Update

This week's been busy at this little homestead of ours, mostly in the areas of dirt.
 We started a large compost area in the southern part of our property over 4 years ago and are super excited that this year it has broken down enough that it is going to be compost in our garden.
 Each year we try and improve upon something in our yard/home area and this year it is the quality of the dirt in the garden.  Compost, perlite, sand and more were mixed into our garden beds this week. 
 And since the sun has been so warm the starts were officially moved out of the living room and have started hardening up each day outside.  The first day we had more room inside Naomi just walked circles laughing.  As excited as we were in March to section off room for the starts is as excited as we are in May when we get that room back by moving them outside.
 And since we are away from frost at night I have worked the soil in the greenhouse and planted our tomatoes, cucumbers and basil seeds.
 All green beans, peas and beets have been started.  Yes, this gardening season is upon us.  Josh rototilled on Tuesday and this weekend will find me putting all those starts in the ground.
I leave you with a picture of this girl enjoying the outdoors and I do report our losses and changes.  This week all of my cauliflower, and a few broccoli plants, have had their leaves burn.  Not sure what is going on but hope my frail little starts can rally.  

On the animal front - the bees are doing so well that last night we put a queen blocker in and added our first honey box, yeah.  But sadly our chickens are having a little more trouble and so far this week we have lost three.  The common loss is 15% so this would be average since we started with 32 but we would like to end with them all if possible.  We will have to see what tomorrow holds.  

May 14, 2015

Where We Are

As I sorted the pictures from my camera the other night I noticed a distinct trend.  These days we are OUTSIDE!  May it be cloudy, windy, sunny, warm, chilly, buggy or otherwise, the house is pretty empty (although not very clean).
 Because instead of being inside cleaning and keeping order I have been outside with my crew.  While in the fresh air we have been busy pulling out our yard toys and remembering how much fun a bucket of water and rag for washing can being.
 Finding the perfect stumps for a table and chairs in the yard.  Who can resist the urge of a 4-year old saying, "mama can be have snack in the yard today if I make the table?" (and maybe in my joy I gave just a few extra treats with that snack.  Yes, tea time has become snacks on the deck or in the yard time.  Oh my the shift of seasons).
And I also find the more we are outside the less we go to town.  The world is our entertainment these days.  Sibling fights go away when I encourage the kids to wander in the woods.  A restless 2-year old just needs his boots and a bucket of water in the greenhouse where he can make massive puddles of mud.  Even my sister commented on the phone the other day how I seem to have a much more positive outlook on life.  Ahh, outdoors.  It is so good for the body and the soul.

May 13, 2015

9 Years

9 Years Ago Josh and I started this little family of ours.  Look just how far we have come!
Happy Anniversary to my Love.

May 12, 2015

Off Roading It

Living where we do and having built the house we did means a few things.  First, a dirt road.  When you live on a dirt road with a gravel driveway there aren't too many childhood memories of sidewalk chalk or biking from home.  Second, when you build your own home out of the woods the house, garden, shop, woodshed and more come before grass.  As a result most of our property is still rambles of trees, rose hip thorns, random raspberry bushes and piles of leaves.
 But when you are a little two year old who knows no different it doesn't bother you at all.  Most people would see a little ride on truck as the perfect toy for the sidewalk down to the corner.
But around here it works just fine being ridden over the brambles, gravel, and through the woods.  This boy loves to be outside and he loves his trucks.  

May 11, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Mother's Day.  What a fun time for all.
 Josh did an amazing job at leading this little band of kids in honoring me all day.   How thankful I am for each of these children that have made me a mom.  
When asked what I really wanted out of today I realized I just wanted to relax and play with the kids.  No time to worry about the chores and jobs of life.
 Yes the garden needed work, the house needed cleaning and on and on.  But instead of that Josh took over the most needed chores and stepped up to make us breakfast and dinner.
 And me, I got to play.  I have been wanting to do this craft where the kids take cars/trucks, drive them through paint and then create with the tires covered in paint.  Sounded like a good idea.
 But with my kids it only lasted about two minutes before the game turned into painting with their bodies instead.
Seeing the mess I put water in a tub on the deck to wash their feet before Josh's dinner and next thing I knew a full blown bath was taking place on the deck, in May.  And you know what, through it all I laughed, played and enjoy each moment.  To sit, play, talk, hug, be bounced upon, clung too, and loved, that was my mother's day and I am so very thankful indeed.

May 8, 2015

Friday Homestead Update

Earlier this week Josh finished our baby chick's new brooding box.  Two years ago we kept the babies in our arctic entry way in a kiddy pool, we will NEVER do that again.
 That knowledge, plus the fact that we are doubling our numbers, meant we needed a new spot to put our babies until they grew their adult feathers and could be outside.  So a brooding box it was.  Of course Josh is amazing and built a great place for these chicks.  The kids had a lot of fun helping to paint the box the other day, and much to her dismay Naomi had to watch from the gate.
 The box, heat light, food, water and new fresh sawdust - we were ready to welcome our 32 chicks to their new home.
The kids are so very, very excited.  They love to visit every day.  Yesterday after I let the kids go say hi to the chicks Abigail started to cry, "I am just so sad because I never want them to grow up, I just want my baby chicks to stay my cute babies forever."  And there we are people, the problem that most women face all around the world.  Here it starts early.

May 7, 2015

As The Snow Melts, We Prepare

The thing about being a household that stays warm via a wood stove, you never take a vacation.  In the winter you work on moving wood in, stacking it and burning it for warmth.  In the spring/summer/fall you work at gathering, splitting and stacking to prepare for those winter months.
For the first time ever we decided to go extravagant and buy our wood already cut and split instead of in full tree lengths.  With all the work Josh has ahead of him already this summer at work and at home it is a real joy to look in the yard at the pile.  With this one splurge we have moved our split wood pile, that we don't usually see until August or September, to April.  Now we just need to get it moved into the shed and it can start drying away.  As the days get long and summer arrives we always have to be preparing for the winter ahead.

May 6, 2015

Family Work

There has been a lot of outdoor work these past few weeks.  
 One of the new projects has been to get ready for our new family of baby chicks.
 And whenever Josh works it draws quit a crowd. 
 How hard can it be to get good solid work done with so much "help" right.

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...