September 29, 2015
We don't live in a huge town but one that is big enough to support our local Children's museum. Over the past 5 years we have watched it evolve from a museum without walls that moved around town for once a month play, to a temporary home two winters ago, to now our very own museum in a permanent building in town.
We love to visit children's museums in big cities where ever we go. The kids are already talking about the one they want to visit when we travel next month. But really when the day is done there is nothing I love more then our small museum right here in Fairbanks. It fits all of us so well.
So on this first week of winter I say we can do this. With a place to run and play whenever we need, yes we can greet these winter months ahead with a little more of an authentic smile upon our faces.
September 28, 2015
I don't consider myself to be one that procrastinates all that much. But there are times when things get put off, for good reason of course - humm. Such as my garden. Last Friday's post, written Thursday night, mentioned that I still needed to pull the brussel sprouts and tomato plants. That I was waiting for that time for Josh to be home and I could do it quickly and easily. Boy was I in for a lesson.
You see, that post was written before this happened on Friday. Sigh.
Now not only did I REALLY need to pull up the last of my plants but now I got to do it in the snow, with Josh still gone, and three kids.
And if I thought Naomi didn't like me pulling plants when it was 40 and cool autumn weather, she really didn't like her first time in snow gear watching me work.
Lucky for me this kid, and Abigail, were in heaven with all of the snow. With all of the yard clean up I have been doing the past two week all of their yard toys have been packed up and stored in the greenhouse before being buried. Thus these kids have been slightly bored when I bring us outside. Cover the world in snow and well everything is new once again. Abigail isn't in this picture because maybe half way through ripping my tomato plants out I had had it with Naomi and I bribed Abigail to push her in the baby swing until I was done. Best cookie I ever gave away!
Alas, my 2015 garden is REALLY all cleaned up now. Thank goodness.
September 25, 2015
This friday update is the last of the season. Our nighttime temperatures have steadily been way below freezing every night and the garden is done for the year.
But before that first deep freeze night I was able to get out in the garden with the kids and pick all I could. Green tomatoes are slowly ripening in the kitchen and being put into this and that as the days go by.
The last of the carrots and beets were picked and are being stored in the cool arctic entry way for daily use. Until the nights get SUPER cold we will have fresh veggies. I never look forward to the day that we clean, chop and blanch the remaining ones before they freeze in our unheated entry.
I wanted to end this blog post with a picture of my empty garden and greenhouse covered in fall leaves. But sadly my small patch of brussel sprouts remains, as does the tomato plants in the greenhouse. The kids don't love to be out in the cooler yard as I pull plants (Naomi was carried on my back in the ergo while I pulled all of the carrots and beets). I have done as much as I could here and there but have waited a few days thinking Josh would be home for me to do the last of it on my own. But work calls and he has been out of town. I guess the kids are going to have to bundle up and help me out this weekend. Moose have been coming through a lot recently. I left the garden gate even open one night thinking they would eat down my brussel sprout stacks and save me some work but alas they thought the carrot tops in my compost bin was more interesting. Oh well, regardless of having an empty garden pic or not, my Friday Homestead Updates are over for the 2015 season. It was a good one for sure.
September 23, 2015
Through out each year I gather winter gear from sales, hand-me-downs, and here or there and tuck them aside. Then each fall the kids have their winter fit day. That day where all of the coats, hats, gloves, snow pants, mittens, scarves, boots and wool socks are pulled out and fitted to each child.
This is a day the kids love because it is all new to them again after the warm summer. It is a day mama doesn't love because it is a reminder of the effort, sweat and patience it takes to wrestle three little kids into all of their gear each day for the next nine months. (my hair was fixed that day by Abigail. What a budding hair dresser she is. Her motto is the more bling and color the better).
And while I worked on the next child, Abigail took her new snowsuit out to give it a try. Keeping her warm on these cooler fall days is a challenge by itself and she gives her new winter gear a big thumbs up. Ethan on the other hand spent 2 hours outside at 40 degrees in sweatpants, mud boots and a t-shirt. After a hour I convinced him to at least put on gloves. To each their own. But come winter these kids are outfitted and ready for another season of cold ahead.
September 22, 2015
I have learned as a mom that when we are having hard behavior days the best solution is to stay home. Sometimes the "staying home to get this right" solution lasts several days. Last week was one of those weeks. Days where I had things planned but I had to tell the kids if they couldn't listen to me at home then I couldn't trust them to listen to me in town.
One of the main things we kept missing was story hour. We all love story hour at the library so this was hard.
So on Tuesday we had an at home story hour. All of the kids baby dolls and favorite animals were invited to come along. The kids had so much fun setting up for this special occasion.
Ethan and Abigail each picked some favorite stories for me to read, and I was even given a chair up front to read from.
After stories Abigail asked me what craft they could do since our wonderful librarians usually have something small for them to put together. I looked at her and racked my brain (hardest part of crafting is the idea) and promised when Naomi took her nap we would make something together. Lucky for them I was feeling adventurous and cracked out the paint. We don't often paint at home as much as we do other things. I often leave that to Mooseketeers or the Children's museum but, as I stated earlier, I was feeing brave. Since we had read one train story and two princess stories I decided to go with a train craft.
Some paint, toilet paper rolls, and spare egg cartons. We all had so much fun. And when we finally did get back to our library for story hour later that week Abigail was sure to tell our librarians that her story hour was at home, and she had SO MUCH fun. You know, on days where behavior is bad I am reminded they just need a little more of me.
September 21, 2015
On the calendar today is the first day of fall. But really, fall is such a quick season here in Alaska. Two weeks or so is all we really get and already it is running out.
But what a glorious time it is. No bugs, bright colors, and when it decides to stop raining, cool temps to play in that aren't yet freezing.
But of all the fall activities the kids love, leaf jumping is their favorite.
Winter will come soon but today we enjoy today. Happy Fall and Equinox.
September 18, 2015
I am excited to report that this week's homestead update is given back to the bees. The days of the bee hives, bee stings and protective coats are over but the days of honey have arrived.
My neighbor and I spent time this week spinning our honey. A process that involves balance and patience to try and get four frames to sit right for spinning out all of the honey out of the comb. That honey is then drained out of the spinner and through cheese cloth to catch the extra wax and undesirables.
From that first bucket our honey strained once more to be extra careful. I mostly worked without the kids but Abigail worked her way over to my neighbor's garage with me and was more then happy to spend the time watching mama work and licking up all of the drops of honey and little bits she could find. What sweet goodness it is.
And after a few days that sweet gold was divided up. How rich I felt to came home with jars full of my own honey to give to my family.
After watching this whole process, from building boxes last spring to the honey this fall, I can say that where the honey in my pantry is wonderful the knowledge is even better. How thankful I am for my neighbor, his wisdom, experience, failures and successes that I have learned from. I do see our very own Klynstra hive in this family's future for sure.
September 17, 2015
There was a lot involved it our little trip to Homer.
For one there was Ethan and Abigail. Lucky for them their grammie lives a hour and a half north of Homer. They spent 2 1/2 days being loved. They did great, except when they didn't. This little visit was the longest I have ever been away from them. That hurt at times, them - me - and Grammie. But in the end the feelings passed and they had a great time. An when I did show up at the end they were more excited about seeing Aunt Hillary then me anyway.
The other small challenge about our Homer trip was the getting there and back again. Alaska is a beautiful place but it is also a big place. Homer is just shy of 600 miles south of Fairbanks. The kids and I took the drive to Anchorage solo one night and picked Hillary up from the airport there at 2am where she was resting from her long flight up from NJ. We rolled into Soldotna at 5:30am, just 10 hours after we had left, and it was so wonderful to see Josh's mom and to fall asleep for a couple of hours knowing she was watching out for the kids.
The trip home we did a little differently. Mainly we did it in the daylight. We started Sunday morning having a little birthday celebration for Ethan before hitting the road north.
And as road trips with kids go, there was a lot of need for getting out of the truck and running, biking, jumping and fun before being strapped back into car seats for the next hundred miles or so.
But with Hillary in the truck with me, daylight to shine on the road, and kids who really did pretty great for doing over a thousand miles in four days, the hours weren't that long.
We did our best to wear these kids out but Naomi and Ethan only napped a hour and a half and Abigail not at all. But Hillary brought a batch of new music, laughter, hours of conversation and just three rules for the kids - No crying, no fighting and no whining
Yes, sister trips are worth the miles and the planning efforts. Sister trips (with kids for extra company) are wonderful.
September 16, 2015
I have lived in Alaska over 12 years now. In those 12 years my sister has seen a lot of Fairbanks when she visits and not much else. So this time she flew up north I met her at the airport and we headed south to Homer, one of my most favorite places ever.
We stayed at an amazing B&B where the Homer spit was seen out the deck
And the local wildlife was seen from the front door.
In the 3 days we were there the clouds never lifted so Hillary never got a glimpse at the amazing view there is to offer but she did see a lot of other things.
We took time to walk all of the beaches
And even though the distant view wasn't too clear she was able to enjoy the up close and personal parts of the fresh water meets salt water views of the beaches of Katchemak Bay
As well as the fun and interesting things you must do in order to get to these great beaches.
And in addition to all the gift shops, art galleries, and restaurants I showed her my favorite glass house on the edge of bishop's beach. Oh how I would love to live there some day.
We had an amazing time, just to sisters - and a baby. Abigail and Ethan stayed with Grammie in Soldotna, Alaska but Naomi came with us. When having multiple children it is so fun to have little bits of time where each child can be singled out and given the attention of a single baby. Amazing how little this girl fussed for three days of a mother and aunt's attention.
Yes, our Homer/sister trip of 2015 is one for the books. Such laughs, so relaxing, lots of talking, and dreams of the next sister trip to come.
September 15, 2015
September 14, 2015
September 11, 2015
This week has shown me that our usual fall pattern is holding true for one more year. Last week we were below freezing for several days in a row. This week all of those plants that survived that small cold snap are living strong in the slightly warmer (40's instead of 30's) fall days.
But even though they still have green leaves the growth is so slow I often wonder if it is worth keeping the whole process going. Watering is a challenge right now since the leaves make such a blanket it is hard to get the water into the ground. Lucky for me and the plants the leaves also hold in the moisture already there and the weather is cool enough that not too much watering is needed.
And most of what the garden is giving us these days is root vegetables. All we can say is bring them on. Nightly pans of roasted veggies are enjoyed by all with no leftovers ever. Fall colors out the windows and on our dinner plates.
And just as the season is about done and I am ready to pull all of the remaining plants what chooses to start to actually grow...my brussel sprouts. Who would have thought. These guys have spent the past two months doing nothing. Maybe they like to live on the side of danger and are racing against our first real hard freeze. I don't know but I will give them as much time in the ground as I can if it means I get to eat one of my own sprouts.
One thing that did happen when I was in Homer was a moose found a little bit of a fall buffet. I don't know exactly what when down. It is a little detective work in the making. There are the hoof prints of a moose but no fence is damaged. I can only imagine Josh left the gate open by accident once but we will never know. The little thief at all of the leaves off of half of my broccoli. Like I said I don't know what exactly happened but I am thankful that the leafless broccoli is still producing side shoots so not much to worry about there.
But the sights and sounds of fall are wonderful too. Cooler days but still bringing in loads and loads of goodness. Plus trying to roast one or more pans of tomatoes a day because having my house smell like a high end pizzeria just makes me feel so good.
September 10, 2015
Ethan loves trains, spiderman and fruit. So for his birthday that is what he got.
We started celebrating on Monday by riding this train pulled by a steam engine originally used in 1899. What a fun experience for all of us!
And since this boy doesn't really love a regular cake we mixed up an ice cream cake for him using a little candy and part of his gift to decorate. Giving Abigail the chance to unwrap KitKats confirmed to her that birthdays are the best thing ever.
And watching how excited she was with each gift he got was just as much fun to watch as Ethan himself. The gift she had made him was the first thing opened and enjoyed. Learning the art of giving a gift, so fun.
And where Ethan's grandparents and sister took the spiderman route, Josh and I went the train direction. Josh built this new train table that is on wheels and can be moved around the basement. It fits the new Ikea set perfect and so far there has already been a lot of time spend enjoying. Even Naomi is starting to get her choo choo sounds down.
I feel overwhelmed by the thoughts of big parties but lucky for me my crew loves the simple/fun days we have on birthdays.
A day all about them and getting to eat as much ice cream as they wish. Just what turning three in this house is all about.
And those little traditions we hold dear, like getting to mark your height on the growing board. Yes, this boy is loved and he knows it.
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