June 30, 2015

We Made That

When friends came over the other day I had a fun idea for the girls that I had seen on someone else's blog.
 A few fake flowers, headband, lace and the girls felt so beautiful (and insisted on wearing them backwards with the lace over their eyes-silly girls)
Now all we needed to do was put on our dresses and have a fancy tea party.  

June 29, 2015

Guests

When guests are due to arrive there is the...
 preparation of welcome signs while mama cleans which leads to...
The joy of having Grammie and Grandpa here.  It is set to be a good week!

June 26, 2015

Friday - Homestead Update

The garden is doing ok.  This week the sun has been blocked by the smoke so even though it is warm it has slowed on the growth front a little.  The chicken's big day is tomorrow!
But I don't have any pictures for you of the yard because seriously it is depressing to take pictures of all the smoke.  Everything is a brownish/yellow.  So instead I will share a picture from just two weeks ago when we were in Denali with beautiful weather.  We are all hoping for rain here and clear skies to return!

June 25, 2015

A Small Fire Problem

Have you heard?  There are a few fires in Alaska these days.  More then 200 as of last night.
Needless to say we are breathing a bit of forest fire smoke and are all closed up inside despite the warm temperatures.  Sigh, summer in Alaska - if it isn't rainy it is smoky.  Right now there are crews from a lot of different states coming to help us out.  Many thanks go to all those wild land forest fighters and smoke jumpers.


June 24, 2015

A 4 Year Old's Energy

While in Denali we took an evening and hiked along a river bed.  It was a fun time of bush whacking through willows, throwing rocks in the river and wandering.
After a bit we came upon a trail.  Abigail got all excited and said hey Mama, I think this trail goes up that mountain, lets go.

Oh, to have just a sliver of the the perspective and energy of our children, that would be a blessing indeed.

June 23, 2015

Becoming A Big Boy

There are so many fun things about Ethan right now that I want to share, remember.  My little boy who insists that he is a big boy.  My little red head who will only nap if I lay down with him and he cuddles up so tight agains me that there is no space at all.  And as we doze off will say, Mama you have a big neck, me have a little neck.  Oh my boy.
Ethan, who has called Abigail Aya since he started talking has recently started calling her by her real name.  It still takes me by surprise and brings a smile to my face to hear him say that.

On the topic of talking, he talks all the time.  It is funny to have people surprised by all he says because at home he is a complete chatter box.  And he is becoming the ham of the family.  He loves to make people laugh.  Whenever I am upset or frustrated he is the first to ask, "are you happy mama."  How that always stops me in my tracks.

He likes to talk about how fast he runs and will say ready, set, go with his arms all up but then he always pauses for 5-10 seconds before actually taking off.

Someday he will realize how quick and witty he can be.  When sitting at our table on the deck he is small enough that he needs to stay up on his knees to eat.  When Josh asked him to climb in his chair the other night he responded with, "Me be on my knees because me have a little butt.  You sit down because you have a big butt."  And then we all laugh so hard and he grins having no idea how witty he is. 

He loves to count and put things into order.  He is really becoming very aware of boy vs girl things. We were at a friend's house the other day and once home he said "I love both Mrs. ..." forgetting that there is a Mrs. and a Mr.  

A week or so ago when we were on our walk he asked why I kept him on the side of the road and stood to his right when a car came.  I told him it was to protect him and what protect meant.  Now whenever we walk he insists on standing to the right so that he can protect his Mama and sisters.  

He is very affectionate and will cry when I hold Naomi or Abigail over him.  He also "loves" everyone very much.  The top on his list right now is the package man.  Our neighbors love to order things from Amazon and the UPS man drives our road a lot.  He stopped once to ask for directions and ever since then Ethan has been in love.  Once our package man stopped to say hi and Ethan got to climb in his truck and give him a hug.  Now whenever he drives by Ethan calls out, "I love you package man."  If asked what he wants to be when he grows up he says a package man or spiderman.  When you are two the possibilities are endless.

June 22, 2015

Family Camping

A week ago we came home from our first camping trip as a family with small kids.  Four and half years we have waited until the "right time".  But honestly I don't know if the time would ever be perfect.  Waiting until potty training was over, eating better, walking, able to sleep in a sleeping bag, and so on and so forth.  
Now with three kids in the midst of three different levels of development and we decided this was the summer to start.  And even though it was a little crazy it was great.  We are all happy we finally took the leap and started down this road.
 Each of the kids viewed camping differently but one thing they loved was that they had a new "home" for a bit.  The first thing Abigail did after we arrived and put out our table cloth was make a flower arrangement of dried flowers to help our home look pretty.
 It was so fun to spend lazy time by the river looking at rocks and teaching Naomi what it means to throw rocks into a river.
 Our time was full of those silly campsite activities to keep the kids busy enough that Ethan wouldn't want to keep playing in the fire pit, with the fire.
 The joys of no cell service, internet, chores, or life responsibilities except taking care of our babies.  
 Our new tent was AMAZING.  Josh, the kids and I really could not be more pleased.  The screen room was used for changing clothes, nursing the baby, playing with toys and keeping the dirt that follows you in out of the sleeping area.  The main tent was huge and we filled it with sleeping pads, blankets and sleeping bags.  When it wasn't time to sleep it was a huge play room where the kids just rolled around and around laughing (and no Ethan is not laying on Naomi's head in this picture).
 The taste of all our meals and s'mores over a fire
 Plus that fact that we weren't just camping anywhere, we were in Denali National park.  Amazing weather helped to make the place even more beautiful if you can possibly imagine that.
And when it was finally time to go to "town" as Abigail called civilization once again, we eased back into life with ice cream before the drive home.

Yes, our after first camping trip debriefing included some things that we would do differently next time.  But overall if you ask how it went you might just get an idea all I can say is that we can't wait to go again.

June 19, 2015

Friday Homestead Update

The first two weeks of June here in Fairbanks were cold and rainy.  This past week things turned around and it has made all the difference.  In looking at the garden last night I remarked that our garden didn't look as good as it does now at the end of the season last year and here we are only half way through June.
 So on the garden note, we are eating lettuce and now cucumbers each day.  The kids love it.  We have big green cherry tomatoes growing, zucchini's about ready to pick, and lots of growth in all of the plants.  Today is designated weeding day as those are also growing well and I have to get them before they get me.
 Whenever I talk about the chickens Heather asks where they are and a more overview look at their pen.  They are in what we call the lower garden.  One year we fenced this area in and I tried to grow potatoes but alas the trees shaded it too much and that was a flop.  So instead this area has become the chicken area.  Just down from the house, closer to the road.  On the property but far enough away we don't have to hear or smell them.  The entire pen is covered in a tarp but plenty of air, sun and wind gets to the fat ladies.
And fat they are.  We lost one more last week.  It had a week leg and we have been waiting for it to go itself but it just never did.  As its body grew its legs couldn't support it and it just shuffled around.  It really became a cruel thing to let it keep going so before we went away for camping Josh took care of it.  Not something we wanted to do but a part of raising these birds.  

But with the sun high in the sky (this is the weekend of celebration here with summer solstice upon us) the growing season is going strong!

June 18, 2015

To Be Known

One of my biggest wishes is to be known.  I am so blessed that on my birthday this was shown to me in so many ways.  From my friend showing up with a gift of the most beautiful flowers, the perfect idea presented from my sister and parents, and from a special email sent from my best friend who knows how important to me it is to be known.  When I told Heather I wanted to write out 34 things I know on my birthday she said, oh I want to do that too.  So, here is her list - so fun. 
Here is my list of 34 things Kathleen knows (I have NOT looked at the blog yet)

1.  How to make an amazing pie crust
2.  How to make and carry on traditions within her family and friends
3.  How to build a house
4.  How to grow a beautiful garden and then can a wonderful amount of produce
5.  How to jump on a sewing machine and knock it out of the park---or atleast wing it and make it look amazing!
5.  How to swim
6.  How to correctly use and pronounce the following words:  crevasse, moraine, striations, anything else 'glacier-esque'
7.  How to use an electron microscope!
8.  How to dig in deep and trust the Lord.
9.  How to appreciate the beauty that comes with cold
10.  How to cook cook cook...and wonderfully so!
11.  How to serve others using #10
12.  How to split and stack to perfection wood
13.  How to give great hugs.
14.  How to stick up for herself (maybe this comes from being the youngest of 3 siblings)
15.  How to cultivate relationships.
16.  How important family is.
17.  How Gene's Chrysler feels when she walks in......AGAIN.  
18.  The value of handwritten notes sent through the mail
19.  How to find a 'good deal'.
20.  That hard work and time spent at something will pay off.
21.  How a bare bottom feels sitting on styrofoam at 40 degrees below zero.
22.  The value of 'blue gold'.
23.  The value of 'liquid gold'. :)
24.  How to climb and ski out to and over/through an icefield.
25.  How to teach her peers, her kids, and others around her in a way in which you can't help but learn.
26.  How to live in tight spaces and in limbo.  I think she could pull off being a nomad and make it look comfortable for her family and 'okay'...and probably still make amazing meals with amazing desserts.
27.  How to be a leader.
28.  How to  speak up for what she believes is right even when it may be a hard thing to do (or unpopular)
29.  How to make ANY structure a HOME.
30.  How to survive.
31.  How to truly be a sacrificial person---and a grace giver.
32.  How to make people feel welcome, loved, and important.
33.  How to be a beautiful, Godly mother and wife...not perfect, but humble and loving.
34.  How to be an amazing best friend and sister in Christ...

I would like to think she was right on just about all but number 12, it seems almost every stack of wood I stack falls over.  I am better at the hauling wood part where Josh does the stacking.

June 17, 2015

I Just Made That Up

My kids love rocks.  The geologist in me doesn't mind that one bit.  Nope, instead it brings lots of soft and squishy emotions to mind instead.  Josh loves art.  He is so creative and loves teaching colors and blending to the kids.  Mix the two and you have little kids running around finding all sorts of different colored rocks to help daddy make a color wheel made completely out of different rocks.

What you also get is the following conversation I had with Abigail yesterday on our walk home from the mailbox:

K - Abigail, look at this rock.  It has a cool shape.
A- Oh yes, I like it.

Next minute I see her sucking on the rock.

K- Abigail, what are you doing?  
A - Oh, daddy tells me to get it wet to see its true color.  This one is commanist.
K - Commanist?
A- Yes, that is a great new word I just made up.  It means that this rock looks just like oatmeal.  
K- Commanist means the rocks looks like food?
A- Yes, you just never know when you might find a rock that looks as much like oatmeal as this.  I love this rock because it is commanist.  But sometimes if a rock looks like it has strawberries in it it can also be called a commanist.

Hahaha, this parenting job never had a dull moment for sure!

June 16, 2015

Celebration

For my birthday this year I asked for family time, and to be loved.  
Josh and the kids did not disappoint!  A camping trip, time together, streamers hanging from the ceiling of the tent when I woke up, and lots of love in all sort of ways all day long.  The best gifts ever.

June 15, 2015

Gray Hairs At 34

Today is my 34th birthday.  In honor of that, here are 34 things about me that have randomly popped into my head:

1.  Sunshine makes me happy
2.  I love to swim but don't always love to get wet
3.  I dream of travel
4.  I think diner oatmeal is the best
5.  Just the thought of Homer, Alaska makes me smile
6.  I like flowers but never take the time or put in the money to grow them
7.  At times I love living in Alaska
8.  I like to cook for people
9.  I don't consider myself creative but still like to make things for people
10.  I like art but abstract art gives me an upset stomach
11.  I love to read and no matter how busy I am I try and keep that up
12.  I hate not being needed
13.  I love to take pictures
14.  I like to watch my kids play - contently
15.  I dream of relaxing vacations but like to be busy
16.  I would love to have a double oven
17.  I yell, I never really did until I had kids, I hate that and am working on it - daily
18.  I need, enjoy and find structure in a To Do list
19.  I like to read the ends of books shortly after I start them.
20.  At times I hate living in Alaska
21.  Serving people makes me so happy
22.  I am a Peanut butter snob and only like Jiff Creamy
23.  I wish I could have laser surgery on my eyes someday
24.  I like to eat food I have grown/raised/picked myself
25.  I like to ride horses
26.  I love the Lord
27.  I like candy too much and have a problem controlling myself
28.  I enjoy finding the positive things in life
29.  I plan on homeschooling my kids and it scares me
30.  I never get mad that my kids love rocks and fill their pockets with them daily
31.  When I am with my family I am the happiest I can be
32.  I don't think I have slept through the night more then 5 times in the past 5 years
33.  I have been to Russia, I never want to go back
34.  Even though I like to share things on this blog with others I find it is a great way for me to document my here and now for me, I like that.

Wow, that wasn't as hard to do as I thought.

June 12, 2015

Trying It Out For Size

My birthday is on Monday.  A few months ago I told Josh that what I would really love to do for my birthday was go on our first overnight camping as a family.  We booked a site and were ready to go but then got talking about our tent situation.  The last time we were big campers was before kids, thus small dome, two-person tents are what we have.  The grand plan was I would be in one tent with the baby and Josh would be in the other with the big kids.  But really, what if it is buggy (and in Alaska you know it will be), what if it rains?  We will be sitting in two tents looking at each other through mesh screens, humm.  Yeah, we needed a family tent.
Then you put together a  sale, a magazine coupon, a 20 year old backpack that was returned for some store credit and the Christmas gift money that had been set aside for something "special" and we have a family tent.  The perfect family tent in my mind.  A huge tent, with a complete rain fly and an attached screen room (living rooms wasn't big enough for that portion but you know you will see it in the pictures next week.) Oh yeah, we are going camping this weekend and we are pretty darn excited about it.

June 11, 2015

When A Box Is Not A Box

Every child has done it and every child loves it.  The joy of a box.
In this house this box was a rocket ship, car, boat, cave in the deep, airplane and more.  And when the box had been filled, emptied and beat up on until the point when tape just wouldn't hold it together anymore we took it apart and painted on it.  Yes, what they say is true - a box can be one of the best toys ever invented by man.

June 10, 2015

On The Road To Recovery

Well, after 4 1/2 years the nasty world of strep throat has arrived at our house.  The past few days have been full of ice pops, thermometers, luke warm baths, movies, story books, juice and balancing a hot body vs. feverish chills.
But I am happy to report that what was thought was a virus we had to wait out has been diagnosed as strep and with that has come meds and the hope of a quick recovery.  We are all watching Ethan and Naomi like hawks to make sure they stay strong and healthy.  Meanwhile as our little lady bounces back to life it is nice to slowly release the tension and scared nervousness that worrying over a sick child brings.

June 9, 2015

Sundays

Ahh, Sundays.
 The day to dress up, be with friends, worship and be a family.
Sundays, that day that gives you rest and gets you ready for the week ahead.

June 8, 2015

Too Good For Once A Year

I have mentioned this before but in our family loves to celebrate 1/2 birthdays.  The one rule is we don't do presents but instead the kids have a date with daddy, pick their favorite foods for dinner and get to have a special dessert with Happy 1/2 Birthday sung to them.
 And for Abigail, my lover of all celebrations, this is a huge deal and something she talks about for months until it finally happens.  Josh took her on Friday and they went biking, did crafts at the children's museum and then played at a playground - just the two of them.  When they came home Ethan, Naomi and I had cooked a dinner of Abigail's choosing.
But since we had just had cupcakes for Naomi's birthday on Tuesday I decided to switch things up and made dirt pie for Abigail.  Ethan was so excited he could hardly contain himself holding in the surprise and after Abigail came home you could hear him whispering "dirt" then giggling with excitement.  Abigail loved the surprise and the candy worms were her favorite.  Happy 1/2 birthday my dear, 4 1/2 looks good on you.

June 5, 2015

Friday - Homestead Update

The kids love the chickens.  They love helping us feed them, water them, clean up after them.  They like to pet them, chase them, hold them and talk to them.  The birds get the joy of flowers picked for them to nibble on and the company of little visitors during the day.  All this love and care is working.  These ladies are getting big.  This video was actually from a few days ago and it is amazing how much bigger they already are.
video
On the garden front - it has been a cool and rainy week.  Thankfully it hasn't snowed here as it did at some people's homes.  But the cooler weather has slowed things down a little but the rain has been good.  As a neighbor said to me the other day, "I can water with well water all the time but those plants of mine just perk up better with they get a fresh dose of rain water from above."  

I mentioned last month that we splurged and bought split firewood this year instead of the full tree lengths.  Well, I am so excited to report that all 5 cords were hauled and stacked during those dry days of May and are now drying out for the winter ahead free from our so far rainy June days.  Seeing wood dry and stacked in the shed brings joy to my heart for sure.  So many years we are splitting and hauling wood that has been rained on all summer and is growing mold in September.  This system works much better.

June 4, 2015

How You Provide For Us

If you ask Ethan and Abigail what their daddy does at work they would say, "He provides for us."  I guess I maybe say that a bit when they ask why daddy has to go to work.  And even though it is what he does for them at work it is fun to remind the kids that how daddy provides for them is by being a chemist.  Summer field season has been upon us for quite sometime now.  When Josh is out in the field it mostly means, from the kids point of view, that daddy leaves before they wake up and comes home after they are in bed.  
So when the opportunity comes when we are in town and Josh is testing a well outside of the secured military base, we do our best to stop by for a visit.  The kids love getting to "help" with ground water sampling, to look over all of daddy's gear, get a great big bear hug and then we head on our way.  Those visit daddy at work days are a highlight for all of us.

June 3, 2015

The Way The Day Was Special

Birthdays are such special days.  We like to keep things pretty low key but no less memorable.  For Naomi we ...
made pink cupcakes to decorate with Ethan as my right hand man with the sprinkles
 Talked a lot with phone calls and skype sessions with family and friends
 blew up plenty of balloons to play with
 cooked this girl some of her favorite foods (tilapia, risotto, grapes, and green beans)
 Ethan and Abigail each had a present for their sister
 And Naomi was slightly excited about her cupcake (this is a super excited face, not a mad one)
 I do have to admit I think in the end Naomi was the cleanest one year old I have ever met.  It helps if you don't actually eat any of your cupcake.
 We ended the day by giving Naomi her bi-yearly height check on the kid's growing board.
Yes, we might have kept the day simple but it really was special.  Naomi's birthday happened, she is one and every day she is surrounded by those that love her.

June 2, 2015

She Is One

June 2nd
The day I will always give to my baby girl.
Our Naomi who from day one has decided that her timing on everything is perfect.
My summer baby who has let this land of midnight sun mess up normal sleep schedules thus being the "perfect" baby for tagging along to all sorts of places.
My little lady who always is amazing
already a deep thinker
who makes us laugh
who decides what and where she wants things
but who also is along for the ride.
My baby who is in a house already full of big kid things
that makes her want to do things sooner and faster 
My munchkin who is often the one with the smile
and by being the third is probably going to be the tough one.
Naomi your arrival has brought this family so many adventures this past year.  
What a blessing you are.  We thank God for you every day!